There is a generation for whom today’s date carries no special significance and I can make the same claim again in a couple of weeks on December 7th. However for those born in the 1950’s and before November 22nd is in some ways as powerful and reflective as 9/11 because it truly marked the beginning of the end of innocence.

John F. Kennedy won a very close presidential election in 1960 based on several factors. Yes he was young and handsome, just 43 years old when elected. He was a war hero, the first Catholic elected president and while those were all important what he did more than anything else was give people hope. He was a vision of the future and while far from perfect united many across this nation.

On this date in 1963, a couple of months shy of my 8th birthday I was getting ready to board a school van for the trip home when I noticed the driver was crying. I and the other students didn’t ask why but it did not take long to learn that President Kennedy has been assassinated in Dallas, Texas. When I got home my mother was glued to the television and she too was in tears.

Like most of the country I spent the next few days watching the TV news coverage right through the funeral when his son John-John on just his 3rd birthday saluted his father’s casket. A nation wept and would do so again time and time again over tragedies involving the Kennedy Family.

For many years to come November 22nd was marked by front-page stories and pictures of the family paying tribute to JFK at his grave at Arlington National Cemetery which is lit with an eternal flame. However as time went on it no longer was a news story and this may be the only mention you hear today but be aware that to some November 22nd was and will always be a day to mourn.

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