John F. Kennedy.
The name evokes images of greatness. Images of Camelot. A golden age for the United States, a country led by its youthful, 35th president. Optimism abounded. Pride swelled.
JFK served as this country’s president for 1,036 days. When he was assassinated at the age of 46, America lost a piece of its heart it never regained. It was, as some have said, the end of innocence.
Who killed Kennedy?
The official script, the answer from the Warren Commission, says it was Lee Harvey Oswald who acted alone on Nov. 22, 1963. They say he fired three shots from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building.
Two days later, Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby.
Theories remain. Hundreds of books have been published espousing many arguments that there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Whitewash, said critics of the Warren Commission. Kennedy, they said, made a lot of enemies. The Russians were still steaming over the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Mafia was upset over Robert Kennedy’s crackdown on organized crime. The CIA was mad about JFK’s watchful eye on their activities. LBJ didn’t care for Kennedy, and wanted the presidency himself.
But we’re not here to debate who killed Kennedy. Perhaps Oswald did act alone. Perhaps that one man darkened America — evil triumphed over good — and we don’t want to accept that a man like Oswald could kill a man like Kennedy.
We are here to say Kennedy was greatly admired and loved, perhaps more than any president since Franklin D. Roosevelt. We will never forget those pictures of JFK playing with son John Jr. and daughter Caroline. We will always treasure those portraits of John and Jackie.
On the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death, we would like to honor his memory by restating some of his words. It is through these words, and others like them, that Kennedy inspired a country. They ring true today, as they did then.
• “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
• “Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.”
• “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”
• “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
• “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”
• “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”
• “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”
• “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”