A Somber Remembrance

The 35th president

The 35th president

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. One way to tell how old someone is: Ask where they were when they heard the tragic news that the handsome, young leader of our country had been shot and killed.

Of course, I remember it clearly. I was 10 years old and in the fifth grade at Gale School in Chicago. An announcement came over the PA system that the president had died. We all stood for a moment of silence. I recall that one girl was giggling from the awkwardness. I felt sorry for JFK’s widow, Jackie, and their young children . . . as well as for our country.

The next few days my family was glued to our TV watching the grim footage of Kennedy lying in state and then the funeral procession. I still remember seeing the horse-drawn caisson carrying his coffin. It was a quiet, reflective time for my parents, three siblings, and me.

A lot has happened politically in our country, both positive and negative, since that day. I often wonder what the U.S. would be like if JFK had lived and was able to finish out his term(s). How different would our lives be?

Of course, that’s pure conjecture. The best we can do is to remember some of JFK’s words as we navigate an always uncertain future:

• Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

• Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.

And, of course:

• My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

These words are a priceless legacy.

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