Saturday, November 22, 2008

Remembering John F. Kennedy

On November 22, 1963, I was in a ninth grade English class at Robert E. Lee Junior High School in Orlando, Florida. Suddenly, the principal came over the loudspeaker to announce that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. The school broadcast live news reports over the intercom until the fateful words were announced that our president had died.

Students and teachers cried while some of us wondered if this had been a Soviet conspiracy and whether or not war was in the offing. We left our classrooms and gathered by the old Civil War cannon next to the school flagpole while the principal tried to calm a bunch of distraught kids. I can’t remember what he said, only that he was re-assuring to a generation of children who had become enchanted by JFK and his family.

We all became part of the Camelot legacy. Kennedy asked us to serve our country, he led our nation with courage and he taught us to think about more in life than just pleasing ourselves. He also inspired us to reach for the stars.

None of us was ever the same, but I always remembered this young hero of World War II and his vision of freedom. When I joined the Army five years later, I still recalled his words:

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Rest in peace, young prince…

Charles M. Grist


  1. I was in fifth grade on November 22, 1963 and had to pause for some time after reading your uplifting, admirable and accurate rememberence of JFK.

    Many in this nation of ours could afford to spend some time thinking about this especially if they are not old enough to remember it personally.

    Here's to maintaining those noble ideals and inspiring others to adopt them.

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