At 1:30 pm Eastern time (12:30 pm in Dallas), President Kennedy's motorcade was passing through the Dealey Plaza in Dallas. The President was shot by a sniper hiding in the Texas Book Depository and he was rushed to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, dying within the hour. A President who was only two full years into his Presidency, a man who exuded energy and youth to the American scene, had his life snuffed out quickly in a situation about which we will probably never know the entire truth.
At the exact time of his shooting, I was attending a religious boarding school in Tidewater Virginia. It was a crisp Friday afternoon and I looked forward to a school football trip on Saturday to play a rival school in Alexandria. Being the typical mischievous teenager in a pristine and strict environment, I was sneaking a cigarette with friends behind the school canteen when we were caught by the Headmaster.
We thought we were in big trouble, for this giant of a man was absolutely no nonsense in his approach, yet this day it was obvious that his mind was elsewhere. He gathered us together without mentioning our transgression and informed us of what had just happened. I remember feeling like things were somewhat surreal, almost as if I was dreaming instead of awake. But gradually we all began to take in the fact that yes, it was real, and the country had just changed dramatically.
While not everyone was pleased with the direction that Kennedy was taking the country, there was no doubt on the part of any American that he loved his country. And to see the man who was the living symbol of what America stood for to be summarily executed was an outrage to us all. I think that all Americans remained glued to the TV all weekend as a form of reverence to the man and the office. Our football game was cancelled and we had a memorial service on Saturday at the school and it was just a very quiet and somber weekend.
Since that time America has changed dramatically and I frankly don't think it is for the better. The White House is no longer looked at with reverence and some of those who even occupy it treat it with disdain. We have become coarse and divided as a people and the divisions have made us petty and weak. And while the horrific thing that happened fifty-on years ago has faded somewhat in our memory, it was still a better time, a more quiet time for America back then.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could have a rebirth of the American Spirit and energy in honor of the fallen President? The truth is that we can, folks. All it takes is for Americans of all walks of life to band together and find the many areas where we have common ground instead of focusing on our differences. Let's use the memory of that day so many years ago to commit to rebuilding a nation that would make not only John Kennedy proud, but the Founders as well. That should keep us busy for quite some time.
America: love it, defend it, work for it or lose it. It's really just as simple as that. God bless the soul of the departed President Kennedy this day and may his memory be an inspiration to all of us to keep America free.