Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. And because many in my generation reminisce about where they were as that tragic event occurred I thought back to where I was when he fell.
And at that moment, I was working off a 10 year term for heroin possession in California State Prison at Chino. I’d just left my job in the prison administration building and was walking across the yard to the dining hall when an old convict rushed up to me excitedly and said "Did you hear the news? They finally got that f....ing Kennedy! Now if we can get rid of Teddy and Bobby, everything'll be okay."
I remember being almost as shocked at the way I heard the news as I was about the president's death. Because this guy hated everything and everybody, the way he expressed himself about this event shouldn't have surprised me. But in light of what had just occurred, the way I heard of the assassination is embedded my memory.
Even though I was probably as angry as this guy , my anger didn't include higher authorities like the president. I think I placed him in some unreachable sphere, maybe in the same neighborhood as God and the archangels. My anger was more pragmatic and directed at the police, prison guards, and the parole authorities – evil people whom I mistakenly thought were responsible for my circumstances.
Because John F. Kennedy was the first "media" president he was fawned over and idealized by the press from the beginning. And being the first Catholic president he’d breached tradition in a way that forever changed politics. In a way that gave hope to other minorities that faced challenges.
Fifty years later we still share a sense of loss for a man who was struck down at a young age. A man who was thus never able to live out his potential.
Click here to leave a comment