Bang! Lincoln. Bang! Kennedy. 100 years apart, the United States lost two great men.
That was the start to my first ever speech, back in 1994, when I was 12 years old. It was a comparison of the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy. My teacher loaned me this book for research. I've been dying to get my hands on a copy ever since. My research on Kennedy also included long talks with both of my grandmothers. Granny dug into the bottom of her dresser drawer and pulled out a large garnet colored book of photos from his funeral. Grandma told me stories. Her eyes lit up when she spoke of him and his family. They meant something to her.
It was then that I got on board the Kennedy train. I became fascinated. I borrowed books, watched documentaries, looked up old newspaper articles. (This was before the internet, remember!) I wasn't necessarily obsessed, but I drank the Kool-Aid. I sat and listened about a time when world leaders had charisma and tragedy struck everyone personally. It was a different time... a time that will never be able to be replicated. I even decided that Kennedy would be a badass name to use for a future child.
"The energy, the faith, and the devotion, which we bring to this endeavor, will light our country and all who serve it. The glow from that fire can truly light the world."
I saw this quote at Kennedy's grave when I visited it at that age. I saw it again when I visited a few years later, and again in 2009 when Kim and I stopped by. I've been to Dealey Plaza in Dallas. I've been to the 6th floor of the Book Depository. I've been to his library and museum in Massachusetts. I've stalked his family's compound in Hyannis. I feel like my Grandma lives on through me in her love for the Kennedy family.
As the 50 year anniversary of his assassination has been front and center this past week, I couldn't help but reminiss. The family compels me, intrigues me, and downright fascinates me. Here's hoping interest never wanes. I know mine won't.
This bit of an article I saw today caught my eye. Sums it up, doesn't it?
"We cannot get past it. The president with the easy grin who became a symbol of change in the status quo gunned down in an instant. His wife, forever frozen in our minds donning pink and a pillbox hat. The motorcade. The sunny day."