This day, November 22, is the day of the first of the huge assassinations in my lifetime. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, Texas in 1963 – perhaps by Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone, perhaps not. And then two days later, we saw Jack Ruby murder Oswald right in the front of the cameras. Jack Ruby died of cancer not long after, without our learning much about why he had done it.
Jack Kennedy was a very personal hero to me, the very embodiment of leadership. Through him, I arrived at my understanding that power over is not leadership. The power to make war is not, to me, leadership.
Power with, the ability to sense and set the tone for the organization / the country, the ability to set out the dream so that others own it and work to make it happen – that’s leadership. Jack was a joy and a textbook case to watch in action.
And we forget that he was strongly opposed politically, especially by the Dixiecrats. He could not pass the civil rights bill, and other important measures. Barry Goldwater, father of the Tea Party, was already starting a strong campaign, and the John Birch Society was in full swing.
Jack’s death – and Lyndon Johnson’s political mastery – are what passed the Civil Rights Act and so many other laws Jack had worked for and been opposed on.
My middle son was barely 3 months old when Jack died. It seemed strange that weekend, impossible, to be feeding and bathing and dressing an infant when the world had just fallen apart.