“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”(John F. Kennedy)
I vividly recall today, (November 22, 1963,) when the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (JFK) took place on that fateful, Friday afternoon. Know that it was a joyous time of year for me on that day. For during the following week, the Thanksgiving holiday, I would be granted some precious freedom away from school. Logically then, this eleven year old child growing up in suburban Akron, Ohio would have sat contentedly in his 5th grade health class that morning, daydreaming about anything but school.
So when my teacher turned on the black and white picture television in the classroom around lunchtime, I thought only of some fun show that my class might be allowed to celebrate on this upcoming holiday week So why did the the solemn presence of newscaster Walter Cronkite suddenly appear on the screen? It seemed important to listen intently as he proceeded to narrate in great detail a series of tragic events then taking place at Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas. Without warning, the principal soon arrived to tell the class that they would we be dismissed from school that day. So I immediately walked the few blocks home from school that early afternoon feeling somewhat fearful of the abrupt change in my weekly routine at the time .
In the ensuing days, I took advantage of school being cancelled to watch live TV coverage at home on all three television stations of heart -wrenching Kennedy tributes and the slow moving funeral processions from our nation’s Capitol. Captivating images of those Kennedy death mourning days remain in my mind to this day: a flag draped coffin, the omnipresent look of black clothing, so many sad expressions of family and children, the stoic silence amid military salute. But most importantly on this grave observance of Kennedy’s loss, I recall how the experience of death for the first time resonated so strongly to shatter my naive conceptions of reality as a child. As a result , President Kennedy’s sudden departure from life seemed to emotionally traumatize me at the time as if I had lost a dear friend.
Awhile back on a New England U.S. cruise, this writer got a new chance to renew his past fondness for JFK on a self guided excursion to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. For on this short visit, I chose to observe his positive qualities as a person, not his political gains from positions of power. So as future elections thus arise, my admiration for JFK’s influence on me as an enduring childhood friend, remains alive to strongly influence the kind of person that I would vote for at any level of government.