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Remembering JFK: A Look Back at the 60th Anniversary of an American Tragedy

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Today marks the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A face most Americans are familiar with, though most of us are too young to remember where we were when it happened. On a campaign trip for the 1964 Presidential Election, the President’s motorcade drew a huge crowd in Dallas. Kennedy was 46 years old when Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shot that would end his life and spark decades of debate over the details of his death. Time Magazine, in 1964, reported, “The explanation of Oswald’s motive for killing President Kennedy was buried with him.” Two days after Kennedy’s death, Jack Ruby fatally shot Oswald.

Peggy Simpson, an Associated Press reporter, now 84, recalled the scene to ABC News

“I was just with a great mass of other reporters, just trying to find any bit of information,” she said.

According to Jamie Stengle of the Associated Press, Simpson, not originally assigned to cover the Presidential motorcade, soon became a part of a scramble for information. 

Clint Hill, now 91 years old, was Jacquelyn Kennedy’s Secret Service Agent at the time and remembers accompanying her to Johnson’s swearing-in aboard Air Force One, her suit still blood-stained. He told NPR’s Radio Diaries, 

“As I look at her face, streaked with tears, her eyes so hollow and lifeless, a wave of guilt and shame washes over me,” Hill recalls in the book“How did I let this happen to her?” Mycah Hazel reported that in the aftermath, Hill was riddled with guilt. Hill wrote a book about his experience called Five Days in November.

President Joe Biden was in college in Kentucky on the day of the tragedy and reflected on the role models and friends in the Kennedy family he has held close in his lifetime. 

In a statement from the White House acknowledging the 60th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, President Biden stated: 

“On this day, we remember that he saw a nation of light, not darkness; of honor, not grievance; a place where we are unwilling to postpone the work that he began and that we must now carry forward. We remember the unfulfilled promise of his presidency – not only as a tragedy but as an enduring call to action to do all we can for our country.”

That period in American history is perhaps frozen in time right alongside the images captured that day, which will forever be a part of our country’s history. The current state of our nation and our world could benefit from the words of JFK himself, as recorded by the JFK Presidential Library and Museum

“Our deep spiritual confidence that this nation will survive the perils of today – which may well be with us for decades to come – compels us to invest in our nation’s future, to consider and meet our obligations to our children and the numberless generations that will follow.”  –“Special message to the Congress on Conservation (69),” March 1, 1962, Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1962.

The past is a good teacher, and there is a lot to learn from the life of John F. Kennedy. Mark Hughes, contributor for Forbes, recommends the Ken Burns series American Experience: JFK from PBS and the following five films about JFK’s assassination:

  • JFK (1991) 
  • Thirteen Days (2000) 
  • Jackie (2016) 
  • Flashpoint (1984) 
  • What the Doctors Saw (2023)/Parkland (2013) 

Photo Courtesy: Screenshot @TODAY via YouTube 11/22/23 @ 2:55pm

Video Courtesy:  Associated Press via YouTube

Meg BucherMeg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ at Joy Overflowing and Sunny&80. She is the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” “Glory Up, The Everyday Pursuit of Praise,” “Home, Finding Our Identity in Christ,” and “Sent, Faith in Motion.” Meg earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay home and raise her two daughters …which led her to pursue her writing passion. A contributing writer for Salem Web Network since 2016, Meg is now thrilled to be a part of the editorial team as Editor of Christian Headlines. Meg loves being involved in her community and local church, leads Bible study, and serves as a youth leader for teen girls.

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