On this day 50 years ago, the 35th president of the United States, John F Kennedy was assassinated.
The moment resonates through history, even to those like myself who weren’t born.
As you all know it is a moment that inspired my novel.
Today is a very significant day, for remembering Kennedy and for my novel.
I am now sharing the first of my three favourite memories from followers …
This one comes from Ray:
My Grandfather’s Friend
John F. Kennedy was murdered on the tenth month of my fifth year of life.
I knew he was the President of the United States. I also knew new he was important because my Irish-immigrant, Catholic grandfather had a large portrait of him hanging in his bedroom. He was my grandpa’s friend.
The event was of significance to me because I saw the impact it had on my entire family. It also affected and intrigued me for the next 50 years of my life. Being only four years old, the event is one of the first I can still recall from that early period in my life. I was not yet in school but accompanied my mother to the grammar school of my older brother and sister, where she volunteered in the office. As I occupied myself with crayons and coloring, I realized there was something terribly wrong. Adults were crying, focusing on words emanating from a radio.
Words of “the president has been shot”, “the president is dead”, and pained faces caused me to be concerned over my own safety. Was life as I knew it going to dramatically change? What was the significance of the death of this important man? My grandfather’s friend. I knew of his children. I remember seeing pictures of them. They were happy. Dancing and playing as their dad worked. I think the daughter, who was near my age, had a pony. She seemed nice. The boy, John-John was a little younger. He liked to play soldier. I did to. What happens to kids when there dad is killed? What happens when people die? I had a lot of questions and thoughts but no real answers. I was scared.
Fortunately I was with my family. That provided comfort and security. We watched the television non-stop. Trying to make sense of this situation which made little sense, especially to a four year old. All I knew was that a bad person killed a good man. My grandfather’s friend.
Someone on TV said that the world stopped turning. I took that literally. I knew that can not be good and wondered what would happen next?
Next caused even more fear and confusion. A man was arrested and then another man killed him? That happened right before my eyes on TV. What was going on? Still no answers.
I saw my grandfather’s friend’s wife, children and his brother on TV. She was dressed in black and had a veil covering her face. They all looked sad. Similar to the distraught faces I saw on my mother, father and grandpa. Something was terribly wrong. Then I saw John-John snap a salute. He was still playing soldier. Something about that moment made me feel a little better. Maybe he was going to be OK.
Life went on. I often reflected on that moment. What really happened on 11/22/1963? Was it just a simple lone gunman with a desire to become a celebrity? Was there something else going on? I began to read every book I could about the many theories surrounding that day. I have no answers. I actually have more questions. I have visited Dealey Plaza twice in the last 50 years. It really is kind of small. Not a place that would be noted for changing the views of a generation and shaping their outlook and opinion. I will return on 11/22/2013. I don’t intend to find any answers or receive a sudden revelation. I just want to pay my respects to my Grandfather’s friend and reflect on what the world would be like had he lived? Would I be different? Would we as a nation be different? Many questions through the years. Questions that just seem to raise even more questions. It truly was an end of innocence for many and especially a four year old boy who saw his parents cry because his grandpa’s friend died.
Roll silent credits.