Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of John Kennedy.
They say there are certain events that are momentous, so much so that you never forget where you were when you first heard the news. The very first such event in my life was the launch of Sputnik. The next was JFKs assassination. I remember clearly, I was still in high school and we were on a weird, supposedly budget saving class schedule, and I got out of school at around 2:30 in the afternoon. I had a car (I grew up in Detroit, after all) that I parked on a side road that dead ended in a large field next to the school. You had to walk out the front door and around the side of the school and almost to the back before being able to cut across the open field.
As I got to the point where I was about to get to the field, there were two kids standing talking about, if Kennedy died, Johnson would be president. I thought about how rather nasty it was to say something like that. Besides, Kennedy was young and he would certainly be reelected the next November. Then I got to my car and turned on the radio. By that time it was in the news that Kennedy had been shot but his death hadn’t been announced yet. I rushed home and my father was there, way too early for him and then it was announced the president had died. It was the first, maybe the only time I saw my father cry. A few days later there was the shock of Jack Ruby killing Oswald. It seemed all too much.
There was a song some years later about the day the music died and I always thought it referred to JFK being gunned down in Dallas. I don’t think the country was ever the same after that event and I’ll never forget it.
Not many people remember, though, that on that same day 50 years ago, C. S. Lewis passed away. That event, which otherwise might have made the news, was completely lost in the events of those 3 days in Dallas. I read about Lewis’ death a few months later when a book of his writings came out. I had no idea who he was, had never heard of him. Today, I’d have to say he was a much greater direct influence on my life than Kennedy ever had. Funny how things work out.