Aging & Attitude
I was in Windham Ashland Jewett high school opening up my locker, and Juliette Judd came running down the hall screaming, “the President has been shot, the President is dead!” There were thirty-five students in my freshman class and Juliette was one of them. My mother referenced the Judd family as uncouth, and her loud raucous behavior confirmed the label. She was scrawny, and had large protruding teeth and scraggly hair; a real character, but you had to love her. Her brother, Timmy Judd, taunted my brother, Victor, into daily after school fights at the Blue Moon Cafe. When I said to Victor, “Don’t go to the Blue Moon!” He answered, “Don’t be stupid.” This went on until Timmy Judd was beaten.
I remember following Juliette through the empty halls to the office where the silence was deafening, then riding the school bus home in quiet. The television remained on during the days that followed, and my younger brother, Matthew, sat hunched on the floor in front of the set to watch. Occasionally one of us older kids would adjust the rabbit ears for better viewing. On Monday, Matthew asked me to come with him to see what he had built. Outside the kitchen door were three crosses protruding from the soft November ground. I was fifteen and speechless but attempted to comfort the five-year old, thinking, If only I could.
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s death and a 2013 AP poll shows more than 59% of those polled still believed more than one person was involved in the President’s murder.
“Turning Point” an AARP magazine article by Bob Schieffer, describes the assassination as the beginning of change. Schieffer defines the time as “the weekend America lost its innocence.” Where was Bob Schieffer on November 22, 1963? He was a twenty-six year-old reporter for his hometown paper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Circumstances allowed him to interview the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald and the scoop pole-vaulted his journalistic career. It is an interesting article and the magazine invites readers to share personal accounts.
The focus for the past fifty years has been on why, where, who, and what, and the reason Kennedy went to Dallas pretty much forgotten. He never gave his speech to the Dallas Trade Mart and today the speech is called the Unspoken Speech.
The speech exemplifies leadership and examines the country’s role in world peace and ends by saying;
“My friends and fellow citizens: I cite these facts and figures to make it clear that America today is stronger than ever before. Our adversaries have not abandoned their ambitions, our dangers have not diminished, our vigilance cannot be relaxed. But now we have the military, the scientific, and the economic strength to do whatever must be done for the preservation and promotion of freedom.
That strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions — it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations — it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.
We in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: ‘except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain’.”
Dallas never got to celebrate the President and struggled to honor his memory appropriately. Fortunately, two British expatriates, Cliff Simmn and Peter Wood, have taken on the task of helping the Dallas Community remember the President with the Unspoken Speech Project. Seven films creatively capture the essence of Kennedy’s assassination on Dallas and the nation.
Sunday, November 10th.The National Geographic Channel will recognize the fiftieth anniversary with a film adaption of the book “Killing Kennedy” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugards.
As the day approaches, we will all be remembering where we were.
. . . just saying