Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Actions of One

It only took the senseless action of one coward to change the course of history and the psyche of a nation.  With three gunshots, two proving to be fatal, we went from a post war generation of idealists and optimists who believed, like our beloved president, that we could do it all, achieve what we set our sights on and successfully enjoy the fruits of our labor and dreams.  But 50 years ago this November 22nd, everyone who can remember the events was forever changed.  I was seven and I can still remember a lot of the events like it was yesterday.  It was just after our lunch period, 2nd grade, Mrs. Heidenrich who was starting to teach a subject when she was called out of the room, returning with a pale, sad face to tell us the news, sending us home to our mothers in the gloomy, dark rainy afternoon to find them crying, watching the television, not knowing what to say to us.   I can remember watching the events unfold, feeling sad, wanting to do something, being sent to stay with my grandparents.   My wise grandfather decided we would do something constructive to keep us busy, so we scoured his newspapers and cut out pictures and text, creating an amazing scrapbook for me to keep in remembrance of our fallen President and the historic events unfolding that cold November weekend.

I cut out pictures of the President and First Lady arriving at Dallas, he looking dapper as always, she a beautiful vision in her cotton candy pink Chanel suit with matching pillbox hat.  How we all wanted to be and look like her, mothers and daughters alike.   So stylish and pretty, not stuffy and old like Mamie or Bess were.   They were black and white, she was technicolor!   She gave women an image to look up to, from the way she carried herself to her effortless style.

Even in her grief and agony, she remained dignified and we
watched in amazement as she
helped lead a nation in mourning.
Jacqueline Kennedy was the
right person for the times, she
had the utmost sense of history,
from her efforts to restore the
White House to the peoples home
furnished with antiques and
period pieces suited to the Presidents
who resided there, to the planning
of her husbands funeral.   She
knew that it must be memorable,
majestic, an event that would
be permanently embedded in
our memories so we would
never forget her husband and all that he achieved in his lifetime.   For those of us who lived through the events, we never will forget the steady beating of the drums during the
funeral procession to the Capitol building where he would lay in state
all day and all night, with thousands waiting in a ten mile line to pay their
final respects to him.  We will remember the Navy Hymn "Eternal
Father, Strong to Save".  We will remember the passenger free Air Force
One, flying over one last time at the gravesite in a final tribute.  The twenty
one gun salute, the meticulous folding of the American flag being presented to
Mrs. Kennedy, the lighting of the eternal flame.  We who lived through the events
still remember, just as she wanted us to.

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