Friday, November 22, 2013

A Story I'd Love To Forget

November 22nd, 1963 was a big day in my life. I was 4 years old and living in Asheboro, NC. My mom and I got up early that morning and drove to Greensboro (the BIG city to us) so that I could be on the local kid's TV show- The Old Rebel Show. It was Wild West Day on the show, and like every 4 year old in 1963 I loved playing cowboy. The Old Rebel's sidekick, Pecos Pete, always had a "quick draw" contest with the kids on Wild West Day, and I was there in full cowboy garb and ready with my toy 6-shooter. I remember very few details of course, but I do know this- I won! I got to pick a prize (I think I picked a toy airplane that would actually fly) and get my own close-up shaking Pete's hand. The way that show worked at the time was they filmed in the morning and showed the episode on the local CBS affiliate in the afternoon. We drove back to Asheboro and I went to Mrs. Poe's pre-school as always. I excitedly told my classmates and the teachers about my exciting morning, and we were all set to watch me have my moment in the sun that afternoon. It should have been the biggest moment of my very young life.

When we turned the TV on and sat down to watch my moment of glory, something was terribly wrong. Old men were sitting and talking about something horrible that had happened. People were very upset, and almost immediately the teachers began crying. They tried to explain what was going on- that a famous and important man had been shot and killed in place far away from us- but we didn't really understand. What we did understand was that The Old Rebel Show would not be on that day. In fact, after several days of constant news coverage, my one shining moment never made it to the airwaves. And I was very sad...

I probably would never remember the TV show at all were it not for the horror that took place in Dallas that same day. The world changed. It got much darker over the next 10 years. We don't know how the past 50 years might have been different if President Kennedy had been able to serve 2 full terms, but we can make some guesses. We would have been out of Vietnam sooner. Civil rights legislation would have come faster and had more bite. The assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy may have been prevented. There might have been a Kennedy dynasty in the White House, eliminating Watergate and the total chaos of politics in the years since. We will just never know. All we know for sure is that our nation lost much of its' innocence on this day 50 years ago, and that we lost a charismatic and courageous leader. And I am still very sad...

50 years. Beginning when I was a teenager, I read everything I could find about JKF. I studied the conspiracy theories about his death (I don't know what really happened, but I am one of THOSE who believes we do not know the truth), watched the documentaries and read the histories of his 1000 days in office. Whatever else you may think of him, he was a man who inspired hope, even in the midst of dark days and threats of nuclear destruction. We could use such hope again. It makes me feel really old to know I can remember November 22, 1963. It is a day I will always remember. And it is a day I wish I could forget.

Because of Jesus,

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