51 years ago today at this time.

I was home sick from school with a combination of Measles and Chickenpox. My mother broke the don’t let them watch TV rule partly because she and the doctor were afraid I would die. So each day for half an hour, I was allowed to watch my cartoons. She carried me downstairs and I sat with her on the couch.

They interrupted my cartoons to tell us that John F. Kennedy had been shot. My mother went to the kitchen and my Grandmother came into the room and sat with me. Then Mom went to find Granddad. He stopped the barn work to watch. Being 5 and deathly ill, I wanted only my comics. She carried me back upstairs. I remember crying more for the loss of my half hour than for President Kennedy. Television was disrupted for the week. Thanksgiving was full of talk of what had happened when my Aunts and Uncles arrived. I remember the pictures of John-John very well. We were of an age.

Kennedy broke barriers. A Catholic in the White House. Before that, Catholics were viewed as one would view those of a different race. You may speak to them but you didn’t invite them into your homes. Things have changed since 1950s America. Those of you who wish for that simpler time would hate living in it. It was not Happy Days. Kennedy was a leap forward. And his death a loss we never recovered from. They changed the destiny of an entire nation with one bullet.

You do not elect the man you want a drink with. You do not elect the one you want to be like. You do NOT elect the faded movie star. You elect the man with the most intelligence who has the best understanding of a global picture. Promises aside, you elect the intelligentsia not the bankers, lawyers, priest or business men. And they better all be old soldiers.

Ah, Johnny, we lost more than cartoons that day.

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