John F. Kennedy Library and Museum

It was one of those days in the lives of us older folk when each of us remembers exactly where we were at the time. Some among us still recall December 7, 1941, as we listened to or experienced the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, a few years before my time. My own so-called “baby-boomer” generation were started right off in grade school with the likes of Korea and the Soviet invasion of Eastern Europe. Then us then-10-year-olds marked the morning of October 5, 1957, when just before school my friend’s father showed us the front page of the Indianapolis Star bearing the news of Sputnik, the Soviet launch of the world’s first artificial satellite into space the day before. You young folk don’t know a thing about Russia, Russia, Russia. That event ramped up the competition with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and began the transformation of America’s educational system to emphasize mathematics and technology.

But none has such place in our memories as where we were when the announcement came over the TV and radio stations that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.

It was some sort of off-day from school, snow I believe, and my girlfriend was over, playing Monopoly and other games. When we turned on the mid-afternoon news, we simply looked at each other, stunned, not knowing what to do next. We were both high-school seniors living in the Camelot where the leading question was not one of what to do with our lives, but of who we were going to help.

In the election campaign of the Fall of 1960, the country was pondering what the fate of the country might be if a Roman Catholic candidate were to be elected president. The girl in the two-tone-blue St. Agnes Academy I rode with frequently on the city bus once quipped, “Face it, people, if Kennedy gets elected we’ll have to change the language on our money from “In God We Trust” to “In the Pope We Hope!” I do hope that she was rewarded with a career as a stand-up comic, for it was her brand of humor that lightened us all up through the Kennedy years, and alleviated this most insignificant of our concerns. JFK’s visionary outlook alleviated the rest in short order.


“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!” This was the era of the birth of the Peace Corps, the ramping up of the Civil Rights movement and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in concert with JFK’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the Medicare program to assist the elderly in need of health services, the President informing the Russians to get their missiles the hell out of Cuba and more.

“The New Frontier”, the title of JFK’s nomination acceptance speech on July 15, 1960, became the clarion call for the younger generation and for generations to follow. A link to some excerpts of the speech is here: https://www.shapell.org/manuscript/jfk-1960-new-frontier-speech/

The famous folk group “The Kingston Trio” recorded the song bearing that same title soon after the speech. If you have yet to be inspired by this iconic song that set the tone for the generation to come, a link is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uI2ATp-NMVI

So when the girlfriend and I switched on the radio that afternoon 58 years ago today, we were at first perplexed, then dazed, and felt a bit lost. The news took over the television, Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson took the Oath of Office to assume his place as President soon after the announcement of JFK’s assassination. The nation stopped. For days the radio stations began to play dirges and sorrowful music to reflect the utterly somber national mood. The Visionary was gone.

Of course our country has seen such significant days since, September 11,2001, having primacy among them. I was sitting in front of my computer that morning reading news of a delayed market opening due to “an explosion at the World Trade Center.” Tom Brokaw and the news media were already discussing how it it that “revenge is best served up cold” as we learned of the possible cause just as we watched the second aircraft fly into the second tower, and the rest of the video that day I don’t care to discuss. We could immediately imagine and prepare for a retro strike at the perpetrators that very morning.

But on November 22, 1963, we found ourselves in shocked tears and fists clenched in frustrated despair as JFK was dead of an assassin’s bullet.


Nearly six decades later I look with frustration and not a little anger at the likes of a so-called President and “good Catholic” who desires to be Roosevelt Redux. I do not recall even once during the campaign or the ten months since taking office that Mr. Biden ever referred to himself as another JFK? The standard is so very high, and the only ‘vision’ apparent is to ban everything while promoting it in other countries, plunge the country headlong toward sovereign default while peddling phony promises of having paid for it already with taxes on the rich, fostering racial hostilities in lieu of promoting healing and amendment, endangering the lives of our young with gender confusions and the young yet to be born with more of what we have come to expect concerning human life… Need I say more?

No, for JFK, a Democrat indeed, died 59 years ago today.

The postmortem of his once-proud party plays out before our equally watchful and teary-eyed stare into the imponderable darkness before us all…

Father David+

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