Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Day JFK Died

I just finished watching THE DAY KENNEDY DIED, which aired on the Smithsonian Channel last night, on my DVR.  It was a stirring program, and really made an impact on me.  I know the story of John F. Kennedy's death, but I had never watched such an in depth program about it.  It left me feeling very sad.  I was intent on having my daughter watch it with me, since I knew it would be educational, but I didn't expect it to be filled with so much detail and be so graphic.  It was hard to watch at times.

I wasn't born until 1969, so I didn't live through it, but my parents have shared their recollections of the time.  Mom and Dad were both in high school, and Mom shared how sad everyone was when it was announced that JFK was dead.  She had looked at JFK as if he was one of their own.  Presidents in the past had seemed so much older, and JFK was the youngest president ever to that point.  She said she thought he was so handsome, and his wife, Jackie, was beautiful.  They weren't just the Presidential couple; they were celebrities.  His death was very hard for everyone to accept, and they mourned along with everyone else.

The hardest part for me was when JFK was in the trauma room with Jackie sitting outside.  I can relate to some of what she must have been feeling at that moment.  There's a feeling of immense aloneness, along with just being in shock over the whole thing.  There are people running around all over the place, but you almost feel removed from it all.  When my wife died, I was fortunate to have much of my family join me at the hospital.  Jackie didn't have that.  They were in Dallas, and there was no family there to join her or comfort her.  She really must have felt alone.  I can't imagine how that must have felt.

Following the sequence of events, everything happened so fast.  They had landed in Dallas at noon, he was shot at around 12:30, and by the time they left the hospital to return to Air Force One, it was only around 2 p.m.  After Lyndon Johnson had taken the Oath of Office as the new President, the plane headed for Andrews AFB and Washington, DC.  Late that evening, after a trip to Bethesda Naval Hospital, they arrived at the White House.  Approximately 12 hours had gone by from when they landed in Dallas until they were in the White House.  That's just incredible for me to imagine.  My heart hurts to think how painful the whole day was for Jackie Kennedy.

I'm not one for conspiracy theories, though I find them interesting, but I'm firmly in the camp of those who believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.  He was so brazen in front of the press and the police, and it appears to me he was just crazy enough to have done it.  The whole Jack Ruby thing I know adds to the conspiracy theorists, but I think he was a nut, too.

It was a tragic time in America's history, and after watching this program, I have more of an appreciation for what happened that day.  It makes me sad to think how different things could have been had JFK lived.  And while I wasn't alive at the time, I realize how difficult it must have been for our country to have experienced such a tragedy.

Have a blessed evening, everyone.  Tell your loved ones how much you love them.  You can't say it enough.

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