It’s truly hard to believe it’s been 60 years to the day since our youngest elected President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was taken from us in so abrupt and shocking a manner on November 22, 1963.
Those of us who are, shall we say, “of a certain age” can remember where we were and what we were doing when the announcement breached our homes and television sets, revealing the 35th President of the United State had been felled in Dallas by an assassin’s bullet.
At the time there was so much confusion and so many unanswered questions. How could such a thing happen? Have they caught the perpetrator? Was anyone else hurt in the gunfire? Did Mrs. Kennedy even know her husband was dead, her children left fatherless? Many of those questions, which left us momentarily in the dark, were answered soon enough by intrepid reporters of the news. But many, many questions remain to this day.
In the following three days, a unifying spirit of grief enveloped the country. Democrats AND Republicans had lost their leader that day. The solemn pageantry of the funeral and the heartbreaking image of a three-year-old John John, son of the late President, raise his right hand as his father’s casket passed, saluting his Daddy for maybe the first but certainly final time. Images etched in hearts and minds forever. To say this event left a scar on the national psyche is to understate its effect on America then—and, most assuredly, in the coming years.
I have always been drawn to the Kennedy mythology, the Camelot Kingdom that was as much legend as it was based in fact. So, when Sally and I began making exploratory trips to Texas in search of a new house and city to begin anew, there was one location that jumped urgently from my bucket inventory onto my to-do NOW list. I must go to Dealey Plaza and see for myself the now-landmark elbow of road where history was derailed irrevocably that tragic day in Dallas. And so I did.
Upon return to California I wrote down my thoughts on the profound loss I had felt as a boy and compared them to my feelings as I combed the site which was still much the same physically as in 1963. I suppose I was searching for clues in the Grassy Knoll—as if rhyme or reason could erase the past and set events back on the same trajectory on which our country had been heading so many years ago.
What follows are the scribblings of a once-true believer who, for better or worse, remains hopeful but not optimistic about “The American Dream” which has taken quite a beating since the days of Camelot. At least we still have The Kingdom Dream, promised by our Father and Savior. And for that I’m forever grateful.
To read the encore account of my 2-hours at Dealey Plaza, A View From The Knoll, please follow this link.
Meantime, Sally and I wish each and every one of you a blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving.