John F. Kennedy, May 29,1917-November 22, 1963
Though the assassination of President Kennedy is ancient history to most Americans, the day lives on in history – and in my memory. I was working in Washington, DC, a short walk from the White House. I remember only too well catching the frenzied rumors out of Dallas, hearing the devastating words of Walter Cronkrite, hearing the helicopter land near the White House, joining the days-long procession of mourners passing through the Rotunda, perching in the window box at the Mayflower to get a better view of the endless walk to St. Mathews. Thanksgiving weekend 1963 was a time of unmitigated pain that has left an indelible mark on everyone who lived through the experience. That day and weekend live on in the collective memory of this nation.
I cannot let the day go by without reflecting on the grief and awareness we shared that weekend. More than a half century later the words of Martin Luther King Jr. ring true:
We were all involved in the death of John Kennedy. We tolerated hate; we tolerated the sick stimulation of violence in all walks of life; and we tolerated the differential application of law, which said that a man’s life was sacred only if we agreed with his views. This may explain the cascading grief that flooded the country in late November. We mourned a man who had become the pride of the nation, but we grieved as well for ourselves because we knew we were sick. (MLK, Why We Can’t Wait,1963)
Some resources that shed light on the John F. Kennedy and his era:
Videos that share the spirit of JFK – skip the ad – http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/john-f-kennedy/videos
From the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum: https://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/Life-of-John-F-Kennedy.aspx
From the White House archives: https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/johnfkennedy