Friday, November 22, 2013

November 1963

In late November 1963, all the news was about President Kennedy’s assassination.  I knew the grownups in my family were upset, but at 8 years old, I did not understand the significance of the continuous news reports.  I was only a witness to the events of those days; I was not emotionally invested, not until I saw tears on my beloved Grandpa Johnny’s face.  He cried as he watched the television and I stood close to his chair with my head against him.  I wondered if Johnny knew Kennedy personally, because why did the death of a stranger upset him so much? 

Years later after Johnny died; Grandma gave me several black and white photographs.  They were grainy images of the flag draped casket laying in state in our Capital’s rotunda and the horse drawn caisson procession to Saint Mathew’s Cathedral and then again to Arlington National Cemetery.  Johnny had taken Polaroid photos of the screen of his black and white television as the news telecast the funeral events. 

Johnny and Kennedy were not personal friends, but like so many Americans, Johnny believed Kennedy truly cared about our country. Kennedy was not perfect, he made mistakes, he was only a human, but he was our President.   Johnny’s tears expressed his sorrow that a good man died, tenderness for the very young children who lost their father, and concern for a country that lost a leader, someone who cared about building a better tomorrow for everyone’s children.

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