Memorable broadcasts survive for generations because they overflow with emotions.
I Love Lucy evoked laughter. Touched by an Angel brought tears. And after Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack specials triggered reflection.
With the 40th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination Saturday, millions of people will find themselves glued to images on their televisions of the Nov. 22, 1963, shootings in Dallas Some, old enough to remember where they were that day, will weep at reminders of a legendary American president’s life cut short. The republishing and rebroadcast of the black and white photographs and shaky camera shots of that infamous day in downtown Dallas, will even affect those born during the disposable diaper era.
Sitting inside a classroom on campus Tuesday, the anniversary of Kennedy’s tour of Tampa before heading to Dallas, my professor played streaming audio of a Dallas radio station’s broadcast as news unfolded of an assassination attempt.
Most of the classroom sat in silence as the nearly 90-minute broadcast played. We listened as reporters in Dallas scrambled for information. Rumors spread about how many gunmen were involved, the location of the shooter and whether the president had indeed been killed.
Listening to the broadcast, it’s hard to imagine what went through the minds of the thousands of people gathered downtown Tampa to shake Kennedy’s hand. They had come to see America’s handsome leader. They wanted to shake his hand. To catch of glimpse of the commander in chief as he rolled through the streets in his motorcade was to be a special moment of joy people would take with them to their graves. Instead, in an instant, the images they were left to live with turned into a nightmare. I shuddered at the cracking voice of the radio announcer when at last, he regretfully announced, “The president is dead.”
Throughout this nation’s history, many great contributors to our culture have died before they finished their work. Some were taken at the hand of violence like President Kennedy and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Others, like Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez, who pushed social awareness about sex with female singing group TLC, lost their lives by tragic accident. Lopez died in an automobile accident.
Though we mourn these famous figures, the best thing about our aching hearts is that they keep on beating. People may die, but their words live on.
During his Jan. 20, 1961, inaugural speech, Kennedy made the famous remark, “And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
Most of us came to know that quote without knowing the speaker. It didn’t matter. It was a call to action much like Dr. King’s words and TLC’s lyrics.
Spend an hour watching one of several Kennedy specials that will air throughout the weekend. Pick up a copy of the newspaper and read accounts of people who remember shaking Kennedy’s hand moments before the shooting. Use this anniversary as a reason to search history books and Internet sites for the philosophies and opinions of JFK that made him famous, and ask yourself how your world has changed because he lived.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy: The youngest man elected president; the youngest to die. This week in history, take time to remember his legacy.
Kevin Graham is a former Oracle Editor in Chief. firstname.lastname@example.org