November 22nd is always a somber day, as I recall hearing the news 47 years ago that JFK had been killed in his 46th year.
Today I think not only of him and his family, mostly dead, too, now, but of myself and how the shock of that day changed my life. The innocence of my youth, with its trust that such an assassination could never happen, came to a sudden end. My graduate work at the University of Illinois seemed pointless. I developed an ulcer that year, helped along by the sudden death of my father three months after the Kennedy tragedy.
Thus began my initiation into violence and the ugly side of America along with personal, emotional turmoil and a confronation with the reality of death.
Thanksgiving that year was painful: what was I thankful for? A dazzling, charismatic young leader, adored around the world, had been shot down in his prime.
I have never fully recovered, even though I did not know Kennedy or even see him in person. He was everything I wanted to be: idealistic, bright, eloquent, classy.
The death of my father was expected; Kennedy's seemed impossible.
Everyone of my generation with whom I have shared such thoughts has had similar reactions. They agreed that America changed, and we changed--and not for the better. Life for us was different after Nov. 22, 1963, that day in Dallas that is forever burned into our memories.
May he and all the dead rest in peace.