It was a moment that would last only a few brief seconds, but the handshake between an impressionable teenage Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy would go on to inspire a lifetime of public service.
In the photo a clearly enraptured Clinton leans forward to shake the hand of the President who looks back at him with the quiet confidence and ease of politician who has shaken a million such hands over a lengthy career.
It was, a “beautiful bright summer day” in Washington, Richard Stratton, who was president of Boys Nation in 1963, recalled years later.
The then Boys Nation President had organized the trip to the White House and said the gang of teenage boys, “sat there, riveted to attention” as the dashing young 35th President of the United States marched out.
Years later, when he himself was President, Clinton remembered, “I was about the third or fourth person in, and he [President Kennedy] started here and I sort of muscled my way up.”
“He was quite generous, he went down the line and shook hands with a pretty good number of us who were there.
“It has a very profound effect on me… it’s something that I carry with me always.
“And I was fortunate that someone took a picture of it and gave it to me so I was always able to remember it.”
Read more: Interesting facts about John F. Kennedy
That picture is frequently republished but a more revealing picture shows Kennedy shaking hand with the boy next to Clinton and the face of the future of President shows he was clearly overwhelmed by what just happened to him.
One man who was there with his characterized the look on his face as he gazed down at the hand that just shook the President’s as one “like I’ll never wash this again.”
Afterward, an enthused Clinton told everyone there he was going to be President, to much mocking.
Years laters, when Clinton achieved his dream, the group met up once again and took a picture at the exact same spot but this time the Commander in Chief was in the frame too.