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NBC TV Features New York Medical College Department Chair in Documentary on Kennedy Assassination Airing November 22.

Dr. Joseph English Played Leadership Role in Kennedy’s Peace Corps and Assisted with Funeral Procession Arrangements

Valhalla, N.Y., November 19, 2013 —Joseph T. English, M.D., of New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y., who served in the administration of President John F. Kennedy, is featured in an NBC documentary this week hosted by Tom Brokaw that marks the 50th anniversary of the president’s assassination in 1963.

The two-hour program “Where Were You: The Day JFK Died” airs Friday, November 22 at 9:00 p.m. on WNBC (Channel 4).

Dr. English, the Sydney E. Frank Distinguished Professor and Chairman of New York Medical College’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, served as the first chief psychiatrist of the Peace Corps, a federal program launched by Kennedy to send volunteers abroad to work on various social and economic development initiatives. Dr. English later became Director of Health Affairs in the Office of Economic Opportunity under Kennedy’s successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson.

In interview segments made available by NBC, Dr. English talks with Brokaw about intimate and sometimes emotional details of the difficult days following the assassination. Among other recollections, he describes working in cooperation with Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to secure an honor guard for the funeral procession, as well as a dramatic and poignant encounter in the White House with former presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. He also explains how the Peace Corps blossomed during the Kennedy years—and would later give rise to many leaders and innovators in America’s public health sphere.

Dr. English is a nationally recognized leader in the fields of psychiatry and public health, having served as first president and CEO of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation under Mayor John Lindsay, and also as president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the APA’s Senior Delegate in the American Medical Association House of Delegates.

Dr. English—who worked closely with Kennedy’s brother-in-law, Robert Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps—was in the Peace Corps offices on November 22, 1963 when he heard the president had been shot. He delivered the tragic news to Shriver and his wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the president’s sister.

He takes pride in his role in helping to shape and nurture the Peace Corps, whose mission is to provide technical assistance, help non-Americans understand American culture, and help Americans understand cultures of other countries. Since its founding in 1961, more than 210,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps and served in 139 countries.

The following link includes several interview segments between Tom Brokaw and Dr. English:


Donna Moriarty, M.P.H. ’04
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