John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the Abrupt End of the Camelot: 22 November 1963
by Elizabeth Menon

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John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the Abrupt End of the Camelot: 22 November 1963

Forty nine Years without JFK:

It is 49 years since one bullet, or perhaps, 'Three bullets' if one believes the 'Magic bullet theory', changed the history of the world! The most recognised three letters, JFK, is known even to children in the remote corners of the globe. We all remember what we were doing when we heard the tragic news of JFK being assassinated in Dallas, on that tragic day, 22 November 1963 – I remember standing transfixed on the School grounds as I couldn't move and I didn't realise then that I was just one among millions the world over, who were shattered by the news! JFK was, and still is, synonym for charisma and people's adulation has not faded in spite of the passing years. JFK and Jackie were considered the 'Royal Couple' and the word 'Camelot' was easily identifiable, and represented them for most people. That fatal shot in November, 49 years ago brought an abrupt end to the 'Camelot', and the Thousand Days in the White House!

The funeral ceremony was the most talked about and it was Jackie who made sure that her husband, the American President's final journey was done in style and was buried at the Arlington Cemetery. The grieving widow looking elegant and majestic in a black dress and a lace veil covering her face knelt before her husband's casket, holding her daughter, Caroline's hand and kissed the flag that covered the casket; Caroline followed her mother and kissed the flag and tried to touch the casket – it has been said that this brought the entire nation to its knees! How could anyone forget the televised pictures of Caroline touching the casket and the three year old John Junior saluting his Daddy's casket outside the Cathedral!

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on 29 May 1917, as the second son of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald, graduated from Harvard University and then joined the Navy in 1943, leading the survivors to safety in his PT-59 following a Japanese attack! His political debates with Richard Nixon are considered to be the milestone in the American Political History, and these debates were brought in for discussion even during the recent Presidential Elections. He married the beautiful and elegant Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in 1953, and when he became the President of the United States of America at the age of 43 years, it was the young family moving into the White House, bringing elegance, taste in art and culture and hope for the youths of America and the young families bringing up children.

He was the youngest man to be elected as the President, and the youngest to die as President in the US – he became the the first Roman Catholic President of the United States of America on 21 January 1961, and continued in the office till he was assassinated in Dallas on 22 November 1963. People are still drawing comparison to JFK that continued even during the most recent Presidential election in the US. He was also interested in literature and poetry, and many people don't know that he has written books and his 'Profiles in Courage' won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1956, the other books being, 'The Burden and the Glory', 'To Turn the Tide', 'The Strategy of Peace' and 'Why England Slept'. His oratory was inimitable, his inauguratory speech and the speech in Berlin are still looked on as the best and people still take inspiration from them even after all these years!
Unfortunately, his term in the office was cut short by the assassin's bullet in Dallas, which is still debated and discussed the world over even after four decades. They are still theories and myths about the assassination and the plot leading up to the tragic event! The young charismatic John F Kennedy sworn in as the 35th President of the United States of America with this powerful inaugural speech that is still considered the most memorable, analysed and quoted all over the world ever since: “My Fellow Citizens: We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom – symbolizing an end as well as a beginning... …; And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country will do for you – ask what you can do for your country: My fellow citizens of the world: Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man... …; With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must be our own”! But he was not given a chance to say 'Good-Bye' to his Fellow Americans or the Citizens of the world, or finish his term in the White House, as the 'Camelot' was brought to an abrupt end only after Thousand Days in the office on 22 November 1963, by the assassin's bullet in Dallas! The eternal flame still burns in the Arlington Cemetery where his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy joined him on 19 May 1994. May their souls rest in peace while we mourn the 'Camelot'!

(JFK's Speech copied from the 'Inaugural speech' bought from 'The National Archives, Washington')

© E Menon



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