I have been to Dealey Plaza in Dallas three times. Most recently I was there one year ago, and while I was there I saw pro-Palestinian protesters rallying to condemn Israel for violence against the people of Gaza, as well as to express outrage at how American foreign policy supports such violence.
Given that the leader of the world’s most powerful democracy was murdered at that place 50 years ago, I can’t help but marvel at how amazing it is that Dealey Plaza is sometimes used to rehearse, peacefully, the disagreements among us, among We The People.
That is one thing I think about when I think about the assassination of John Kennedy.
But I also think about my mom. In the days leading up to this day, this anniversary of a horrific crime, I have found myself thinking about what the Kennedys, particularly John and Jackie, meant to her.
I was only five years old when Lee Harvey Oswald fired those shots. I have no direct memory of the event. But I most certainly have memories, created a few years later, of thumbing through books and magazines on the Kennedys that my mom had purchased to memorialize her hero. She was a Democrat and, as far as I know, she was a life-long Democrat. And to her the Kennedy family was, as they were to so many, an American royal family.
Several of the photographs we have seen on television the past few days were burned into my memory a long time ago. Those Kennedy books and magazines my mom had in our house likely kindled the interest in politics and politicians that burns in me still. I did not understand at the time what Kennedy’s death meant to the country or to history, but I think I understood what his death meant to my mom.
And that is why for me today brings back memories of a little boy flipping through pages filled with mostly black-and-white photographs of a young president and his family and the savage who killed a man my mom had never met or would never meet, but loved so much.