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Originally published: 2013-11-25 14:21:31
Last modified: 2013-11-25 14:29:28

Our View: John Fitzgerald Kennedy 1917-1963

Editor's note: This editorial, written by Rob Rivers, was published in the Watauga Democrat on Nov. 28, 1963, following the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The parade route was lined with friendly, cheering people as the President of the United States, The First Lady, Governor and Mrs. Connally rode along a Dallas street. Things appeared to be going well in the turbulent political tides which have ebbed and flowed in the Lone Star state... But there was the crack of a rifle, the Chief Executive slumped and the nation was plunged into deep mourning.

Even those who liked the President least found a common ground with those who loved the Executive, in their crushed reaction to the monstrously evil thing, which could well affect the destinies of the nation and even of the world.

Youthful, vigorous and imaginative, Mr. Kennedy had served his country well during the agonies of the late great war and during the frenzied and dangerous age of the shaky and uneasy peace. He had served less than three-fourths of his term when an assassin's bullet struck with its crashing, searing lethality.

President Kennedy, who was no stranger to trouble and to sorrow and to family tragedy, carried into the nation's top office a wealth of knowledge and of experience and a rare concern for the rights and welfare of the peoples of the country and of the world. Articulate, personable and with no apparent quality of fear, he captured the imagination and esteem of his countrymen. He was thick-skinned, impervious to criticism and could make vital decisions without disturbing his sleep.

The President was not doing well with his programs in Congress. Few men of vision and change are successful right from the start when they speak freely for liberalism, and who espouse the rights of the common man, and who've believed that one race has no moral or legal right to set itself up as the master of another race whose skin comes in darker hues.

In his fight for civil rights and for the dignity of the Federal Courts President Kennedy was never swerved from his convictions, even though he was losing strength in some sections of the country. In the South, even in North Carolina, those who've wanted to keep the status quo have railed out against the President, who would have fared badly in some of the states of the old Confederacy.

But, death in its silent, strange finality, often comes as a grim pacifier, as a sort of common denominator and those who'd fought the President, tooth and nail, in and out of the Congress are now united in a common grief, the extent of which has perhaps never been equaled in the nation's harried history.

The mysterious curtain of death has brought an amazing degree of charity and of sadness, even to his former detractors. Some of the debatable policies which he espoused with youthful vigor and without regard to personal consequences, somehow don't seem to be so tremendously wrong now that heads are bared and bowed in the stillness and hush of his tragic leave-taking. So, in the dispensation of the Father of us all, it could well be that Mr. Kennedy's death could be the means of reuniting our nation more solidly than before in these days of our tragic sorrows, and of our common dangers.

President Kennedy was a good and a great man. He had matured in his position of power and of prestige and had met issues of monstrous magnitude with firm decisions and with courage case-hardened in the cauldrons of world conflict.

It is fitting that the President's body, smashed by an enemy of our country, is lying as this is written on the catafalque which first held the body of Abraham Lincoln, who himself met death as an indirect results of some of the beliefs which President Kennedy espoused a hundred years later. While the Kennedy assassination does not tie in, so far as we know, with the racial situation, most of the hatred which the late President acquired was in his efforts to implement and expand the spirit of the Emancipation proclamation.

The sinews of a great nation are not weakened when watered by its tears, and out of a common grief should come a more purposeful perspective and a renewal of our spiritual and physical might. In our time of sorrowful reflection, we should gain strength from the unchanging purposes and high courage of our fallen President, and tranquility form Mrs. Kennedy who "knelt by the catafalque which once held the body of Abraham Lincoln, kissed the flag which covered the coffin of her husband," and leading her children, Caroline and John-John, one with each hand, walked resolutely from the hushed rotunda of the capitol into the sunlight.