Sunday, November 24, 2013

A few thoughts on JFK


50 years ago, President JFK was assassinated.  Here are some recent thoughts shared on the anniversary of his murder.

Former President Bill Clinton:

Because [JFK's] life was claimed too soon, in death he became…the symbol of the eternal future, the symbol of what we always have to become; that America was always going to be a country on the move, always becoming, always redefining itself. Not [without] political debates [and] fights, but always finding a way to find something we agreed on, something we should continue fighting on, and some way to keep moving together into tomorrow. And it will always remind me that our obligations now, no less than then, are to give our children and our grandchildren that future. We are going to share it; the question is what we will share. And that is ours to determine."

US Senator Patty Murray:

Like so many Americans I still vividly remember November 22nd, 1963. As an 8th grader in my small hometown of Bothell, Washington I still remember playing in our school’s marching band in front of a local elementary school when someone came in and whispered in the ear of our band director. He immediately stopped the song we were playing, asked us to pull out the music to God Bless America, and we began to play. Then there was an announcement that the President had been shot. It was stunning.
I also remember going home and seeing my mom do two things that she never did, watch TV all day and cry. For me, it was the day the world got bigger than the small town I lived in. And from that day on, the Kennedy legacy of service was talked about often in my house. Those conversations helped instill in all of my brothers and sisters the knowledge that we have to be part of the bigger world beyond our own home and that we should work where we could to make our school, our community, and the world a better place.
I think a lot of American families had similar experiences because I see it every day in the Kennedy legacy of service that lives on. From those who dedicate their time and energy to helping the most vulnerable, to those who strive to innovate for the next advancement in health or technology, to those who serve our nation in uniform as President Kennedy did, so much of the spirit of service for the greater good can be traced back to his words and deeds. I join with all Americans today in honoring his life and legacy.

Former Oval Office occupant Bully Boy Bush:

Today we remember a dark episode in our Nation's history, and we remember the leader whose life was cut short 50 years ago.
John F. Kennedy dedicated himself to public service, and his example moved Americans to do more for our country. He believed in the greatness of the United States and the righteousness of liberty, and he defended them.
On this solemn anniversary, Laura and I join our fellow citizens in honoring our 35th President.

US House Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay:

Friday, November 22, 1963 was just a regular day. Like most mornings, my sisters and I had jumped on the Delmar streetcar which took us to the St. Francis Xavier primary school in midtown. 
I was a second grader who loved school and was just getting excited about the bigger world around me. 
 About 1pm, our principal, Sister John the Baptist, came on the PA system to tell us the terrible news . . .  the President was dead, struck down by an assassin. 
School immediately dismissed, and my sisters and I took the streetcar home where my Mom was waiting. 
We were glued to the television and it was as if the whole world had stopped. 
Later that day, my Dad, former Congressman Bill Clay, came home. 
Back in 1963, he was an Alderman and he had recently been released from jail after leading the landmark Jefferson Bank protests which struck down segregation in St. Louis. 
At dinner that night, my Dad got up and excused himself from the table. That was the first time that I ever saw him cry. 
Fifty years have passed since that horrible trauma which changed every American who is old enough to remember it. 
 I could not know then, what I know now 
My Dad's tears were not just for the death of one good man, he cried for what we lost as a nation. President Kennedy inspired an entire generation of Americans to believe that public service was honorable and essential. I still carry those values with me every day. 
His death changed our country, altered the course of the 20th century and changed our world. 
But his sacrifice also planted the seeds that propelled President Lyndon Johnson to pass the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and much more. 
So while we remember all that we lost on that terrible day in Dallas, let us also give thanks for President Kennedy's incredible vision, his courage, his unbounded optimism and his belief that freedom and justice are worth fighting for. 
They still are.

Ellen Fitzpatrick, history professor, University of New Hampshire:

There were letters that were written to his widow [Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis]  after his death. She received some 1.5 million messages in the first year-and-a-half after his death. And there were letters from segregationists. There were letters whose -- from people who supported his stance on civil rights.
There were people who said they were looking forward to voting against him in 1964. There were people who thought he was equivalent to Lincoln, a great emancipator. But, across all of that spectrum, there was quite a uniform feeling that this was a terrible act, a terrible thing to have happened in the United States of America, and a real, absolute disgust, really, that such a terrible act of violence could have deprived this nation of its elected president.

Secretary of State John Kerry:

To this day, I have serious doubts that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.  I'm not sure if anybody else was involved -- I don’t go down that road with respect to the grassy-knoll theory and all that -- but I have serious questions about whether they got to the bottom of Lee Harvey Oswald’s time and influence from Cuba and Russia . . .  I  think he was inspired somewhere, by something.

Oliver Stone:

History is a struggle of the memory. But when the counter evidence is stifled, we are closer to a Soviet-era manufacturing of history in which the mainstream media deeply discredit our country and continue to demean our common sense. We must always question those who tell us what to think.

The President and CEO of Tejas Office Products, Inc, Lupe Fraga remembers the Houston event for Kennedy at the Rice Hotel the evening before the assassination:

It was 20 minutes that they were there with us, but it’s really one of the greatest 20 minutes of my life that I have ever experienced, So we waited and waited, and finally they came down. President Kennedy gave a 17-minute speech, just really had the people roaring and excited. This man, I remember the way that he could articulate and just speak to a group was fascinating. And then, Jackie speaks to the group in Spanish and that really got the floor rocking.

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