President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s Death Day has always been one of my personal high holy days. And this year marks 50 years since that awful event.
NPR last night carried a program of voices from the Kennedy era 50 years ago – most long dead, like McGeorge Bundy, Tip O’Neill, and Joseph Alsop, the way-back-then best-in-the-business reporter and columnist. Stories from Jack’s beginning days running for a House seat in Massachusetts, then the U S Senate, and at last, though it was likely long intended, the Presidency.
Then today, they replayed tapes and audio from the newsrooms on the day the President was assassinated, as heard and narrated by Walter Cronkite on CBS in real time on that fateful day.
I still grieve what we lost that day – Camelot, grace and beauty, possibility and hope.
I was at work at Mehl Manufacturing when the news came, managing my team, busily working with our sales force out in the field. None of us could keep working – we just started drifting out and going home. There didn’t seem to be any point in staying – and indeed, not much point in anything.
My oldest son had just turned 3 – he was born two days after the 1960 election. The middle son was just a bit over 15 months old. It felt incredibly strange, feeding and care for him, when the world had just fallen apart. I was feeding him and watching the television – non-stop, as we all were – when Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald right in front of us on that Sunday. Surreal on top of surreal. And the youngest would not be born for nearly 2 more years.
The murder of all this potential changed everything for most of us Americans – and indeed for the globe. By 1968 when two more national murders came – Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, we were all in a state of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And these last few days have brought all of that back again.
Quiet, rest and love are what we all need now.