BOSTON -- Mikhail Gorbachev ended a two-week tour of the United States by paying tribute to slain President John F. Kennedy and warning it would be 'criminal' not to follow through on 'historic shifts' in his homeland and throughout the world.
Speaking to an audience of Kennedy family members, political leaders and academics, the former Soviet president said Friday the end of the Cold War and the 'emancipation' of his country and Eastern Europe have 'inspired us all.'
But he warned the 'manifestations of chaos, collapse and loss of control' demand effort to 'seek the paths to an intelligent and necessarily democratic organization to our common abode.'
The speech at the waterfront John F. Kennedy Library capped a triumphant Gorbachev tour in which he urged the United States to commit politically and financially to helping democracy thrive in the former Soviet Union. He also raised a hefty amount of money, reportedly $2 million to $3 million, for a 'think-tank' foundation he is launching in Moscow and San Francisco.
'Today ... we are all acutely aware that it would be criminal to miss the chance to carry through on the historic shifts that have been maturing for so long, and that we vitally need a policy worthy of the scientific and technical achievements of the times and of the new discoveries promised in the century to come,' Gorbachev said.
'In a political philosphy aimed at the triumph of the individual, not of a country, ideology or class, we see testimony to the heritage of John F. Kennedy.'
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., spoke glowingly of Gorbachev in welcoming him to Boston. He called him a 'profile in courage,' a reference to the book written by his slain brother, and gave Gorbachev a framed collage of notes President Kennedy made just prior to a 1963 address calling for ban on nuclear testing in the atmosphere.
President Kennedy's widow, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, making a rare public appearance, gave Gorbachev's wife, Raisa, a book on landscape artist Maurice Prendergast, a Boston native. Her son, John Kennedy Jr., gave Gorbachev's daughter Irina a copy of 'In Our Defense,' a book by Caroline Kennedy.
'Few individuals have the power to change the course of history,' said Sen. Kennedy, who was accompanied by his bride-to-be, Victoria Reggie. 'Even fewer actually accomplish that change. And the fewest of all accomplish it for the better. Mikhail Gorbachev is one who did.'
After speaking at the Kennedy Library, where he dined on lobster and salad, Gorbachev traveled to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, where he fielded questions from students and faculty.
The former Soviet leader enjoyed a reception in the United States that he would long to have in his native land, where his popularity plummeted, despite his appeal elsewhere in the world.
His tour also included an address at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., where Winston Churchill gave his famous 'Iron Curtain' speech in 1946, a cheering reception on Capitol Hill, a visit to the capitalist edifice Trump Towers in Manhattan, a walk through the New York Stock Exchange with former President Ronald Reagan and a White House dinner with President Bush.