Monday, May 29, 2017

John F. Kennedy #idol

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of former US President John F. Kennedy. Like a lot of Irish people I have always had a strong admiration for him, though I was only four years old when he died. Indeed the date of his death, 22nd November 1963, is my earliest memory. I don't recall where I was exactly (most likely either at home or in school) when I heard the news, but I have a vivid recollection of people talking about it. I also have an image of President Kennedy coming out of a fog and turning back to see the bad men chasing him - I guess in the mind of a small boy this is what I thought an assassination was about. When he visited the South-east of Ireland in the summer of 1963, I have no memories of this.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons.
The Irish Times: 13th April, 2009.
I have been to Dealey Plaza, where he was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald, during a business trip to Dallas in the late 1990s. I also went up to the Sixth Floor Museum and looked out the window from where Oswald fired the fatal shots. Last summer I visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston, and in January 2016 I visited the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. I have also read Robert Dallek's masterful biography - "John F Kennedy: An Unfinished Life". I even quoted Kennedy in a letter to The Irish Times in 2009 at the height iof the economic crisis in Ireland. It's fair to say that I am an admirer.

Of course dying young (he was just 46) keeps him young in all our minds. We think of the waste of a life, and what might have been had he lived. His generation are now almost all gone, and most of the people who voted for him are now old or gone too. Today I think of a man who was no saint, who stood up to the Russians, who inspired a generation, and who will remain in my memory until the day I too depart this life.

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