At the end of the week, an anniversary will arrive. It will be 50 y ears since an American president was murdered. The media hasn’t forgotten the interest in this man and makes sure America’s citizens today still see the assassination as it happened with film footage. I remember the time well and need no reminder. Seeing the films again brings back the horror and stunned breathlessness of that day.
I was in fifth and sixth grade when John Kennedy was coming to the front of politics. A wonderful teacher was teaching Civics…making us aware of current events. I listened. I became interested. I started listening to speeches, following campaigns, celebrating elections. JFK gave me a sense of real belonging; I wanted to do for my country!
Then when I was a freshman, the bullet took him out and changed America. There was a rumble in the halls during lunch; rumors flew, worry lines formed on faces. We went on to our afternoon classes which put me in my most hated class ever, Algebra, with a detestable man. We had not gotten far into class when the intercom announced the death of our President. I will never forget the smirk on the teacher’s face as he watched some of us crumble. Remember, this was in Republican Kansas but still there were believers in the dream of Camelot.
School was dismissed, and we went home early for a long weekend to deal with the shock.
Since then, many unsavory details have come to light about the man John Kennedy and the President JFK. I don’t like them, but they don’t erase the feeling I had in those days. Many dismiss Kennedy as just a randy Irish Catholic. They may be correct, but I think despite his inadequacies there is still much to admire. I don’t deny his weaknesses, but I choose to see the leadership he gave despite his defects. It can’t be denied that he galvanized a generation to action, tried to move the world towards a better place.
Maybe JFK’s faults gave us as much as his virtues. Maybe we should see that despite being less than perfect he did do good things and went down doing what he thought was right—in parts of his life anyway. After all, Camelot was a mythical place and John Kennedy was a flesh and blood man, but one who stood a little above the rest even if on feet of clay.