Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 22

Chris Matthews, formerly of The San Francisco Examiner and currently host of MSNBC's Hardball, may be the closest thing remaining to the sort of old fashioned journalist I grew up wanting to be. As he has mentioned several times on his television show, he has written a new book about John F. Kennedy. He avoids using the term "Camelot," but his memory of President Kennedy is certainly admiring. Matthews, in his youth, joined Kennedy's Peace Corps, as did others of my and Matthews' generation, many males of whom changed their hair styles to resemble that of Kennedy. Include Chris Matthews himself. Also Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich. Me, too. Sales of "greasy kid stuff" went the way of the buggy whip.

Matthews argues that Kennedy should be remembered for things other than his assassination on November 22, 1963. However, there are those of us who can never forget, because our world never looked the same to us again after Kennedy in Dallas, with Oswald and Ruby.

Chris Matthews nominates remembering Kennedy on his birthday or the anniversary of his civil rights speech in 1963. I could propose some other special dates: that of the Cuban Missle Crisis or the brutal murder of the South Vietnam President Ngo Dinh Diem 20 days before Nov. 22, 1963.

You can see in the photo of JFK and his wife Jacqueline arriving in Ft. Worth on their way to Dallas. He wore a handsome smile. She wore a spotless pink suit.


Tina said...

LBJ wasn't too great on foreign policy but he got civil rights bills passed even though he knew it would turn the South against the Democrats. In a bio I read, LBJ is quoted as having said to a prominent Georgia senator, "I'm going to have a Civil Rights bill and if you get in my way I'll run over you." That makes me kinda admire LBJ even though he had no Camelot aura.

Tina said...

I was living in TX when Kennedy was shot and the image that sticks in my mind is that of Jack Ruby shooting Oswald. Though not a conspiracy theorist I have never been 100% satisfied with the official explanations....

Bill F Eger said...

Yes, Bill, and you and I were in the same place, in the newsroom of the Atlanta Journal, when the shots were fired and the teletypes rang out with ten bells.

As a former UPI guy, I was first to go to them because that was the signal for a FLASH, very rare. Got to the machines and yelled out, "Kennedy has been shot." It started one of the busiest days in my journalistic history.

Cotter Pen said...

The secret service agent assigned to first lady Jacqueline Kennedy has broken his long silence with a memoir of the time, "Mrs. Kennedy and Me."
Clint Hill, the former agent who was code named Dazzle, told the "Today" show he was on the scene for major joyful events—like the birth of John F. Kennedy, Jr., vacations in Hyannisport, Mass., and trips abroad.
But the moment that has haunted the agent was the day the president was shot, Nov. 22, 1963. As footage from the day shows, Hill was riding the sideboard of the car behind the president and first lady in the Dallas motorcade. As the bullet pierced the president's skull, Hill is seen running from his car to the president and first lady's car while Jackie leans over the back of the car.
When Hill reached her, he helped her retrieve some of the splatter from the shot. He recounted, "She said, 'They shot his head off.' She said, 'Oh, Jack, what have they done?'"
When the car arrived at the hospital, Mrs. Kennedy refused to get out. Hill realized she didn't want the public to see the president in his condition: "It was a very gory situation," he said, and thought to cover Kennedy's head and back with his jacket. It was then she let go of the president.


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