I remember where I was when he died. I was in school. A student came into the classroom from the Main Office. She handed the teacher a note. The teacher began to cry.
Instinctively concerned I asked, “Why are you crying Miss?”
“The President is dead.” She replied, tears dripping down her face.
“The President of the school?” I asked nervously.
“No, she whimpered, “The President of The United States.”
Then everyone seemed to be crying. There was crying all over the school. Most of the adults were crying. Many of the children were crying, some didn’t know why they were crying but they were influenced by everyone else who was crying. I didn’t cry. I was just confused. I was living in my third foster home in three years. I had tried to commit suicide earlier that year. I was six.
I remember the teenager foster sister in my second foster home talked about him and how it was so good for America to have a young, handsome President and a young, beautiful, First Lady. Not like the old, wrinkled people most other nations had for leaders, she often said.
I remember watching his funeral on the small, black and white television my foster family had. I remember the people marching and the horse drawn carriage carrying his flag draped coffin. I remember a little boy, not much younger than me saluting as his coffin. Later that day, someone told me that was his son. I felt sad for him, having to grow up without a father, but then he and I were alike in that respect.
I remember watching cartoons, the day before, when my wonderful cartoons were pre-empted by a man being transferred from one jail to another. Boring! Then, suddenly, the man being transferred was shot! The T.V. said that was The President’s assassin. I remember the look of shock and horror on his face when he was shot.
In later years I came to realize how intelligent he was and why my teenage foster sister was so proud. It wasn’t just his youth, it was his intelligence. It was his leadership. It was his sense of humor. He had the whole package. The world was lucky to have him if even for a short time. He started something big that his successor, LBJ was savvy enough to get finished. The world changed somehow when he was taken from us. The innocence of the nation he led seemed to vanish like the innocence of my world was marred by a war that some people, not much older than me went off to fight.
Two and a years after he died I was hit in the head, by a baton, from a police officer on horseback, riding through a crowd I was part of, protesting that war, in a field, near a hotel, LBJ was staying at in 1966. Two years after that, his brother was gone too right after we lost Martin Luther King. Many historians say that the assassination of JFK was a turning point in American history. I was a witness to that history. I was a part of that history. I agree with them.
In True Faith,
The Prophet of Life
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