Fifty years ago our thirty-fifth president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated. I was only seven years old. I have little recollection of President Kennedy’s term in office beyond the conspiracy gleanings and movies, and the historical direction he laid out for our country.
I do remember quite well the personal unhappiness endured by older siblings and my mother while the event unfolded on the special news broadcast on the television. What I once watched with amazement — the presidential limosine speed away in a frenzy of activity – turned only to horror by the oft replays of that scene. I can still see it like it was yesterday. Standing in the middle of our living room, some sisters crying, mother consoling all of us, me just standing there watching, but not realizing how our countries future had just been altered.
In fact, I think there was little thought even from the news broadcast of how this event would alter our future. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson would be sworn in as our new president, as the constitution authorized, and our country would continue.
President Kennedy was a visionary that had a vision for America like no other politician of his day. He began the Peace Corp because he felt that America should be recognized throughout the world as making peace. He knew that the outer space was the new frontier and vowed to have an American on the moon by the end of the decade; in which we did. Of course, don’t forget his most memorable quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Nowadays, we are way off course of President Kennedy’s vision. We engage in preemptive military strikes in the name of regime change. We have allowed our space program to be trumped by our military thirst, which has allowed other countries to establish their own space programs in parallel with our own. Our military complex, and other corporations, are all too willing to ask what the government can do for them, while poverty is blamed on the impoverished.
Looking back fifty years in history I now understand those tears cried on 22 November 1963. We need to regain President Kennedy’s vision if we are to relinquish the despair we hold of our past and begin building a better future for all. Rest In Peace President Kennedy 29 May 1917 – 22 November 1963!
One thing is certain. Eventually we will all have the same peace that President Kennedy enjoys. The question remaining is when will America be viewed as the world’s peacemaker and not as the militarized giant with an unquenchable thirst for war? Fifty years after the death of our thirty-fifth president, we can do better than we’re doing.