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JFK was my hero

 

Fifty years ago this week, the announcement came across the public address system of my 11th grade chemistry class that President John Kennedy had been shot and had died in Dallas.

The teacher, a recent college graduate, burst into tears over the tragedy that had just happened, as did a number of students.

A few rejoiced, reflecting not only poor upbringing, but a lack of understanding of the great JFK. He was my hero

The terrible act of Lee Harvey Oswald followed by the revenge shooting by Jack Ruby was just the precursor for a violent decade in which the president’s younger brother, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King were also assassinated.

JFK was a hero to many young people.

He represented the best product of great wealth coming from a powerful family and choosing to run for office.

He had a beautiful family and an ability to galvanize young people to get involved. He had a vision and the capacity to convince the public that his vision was correct.

After the Russians launched Sputnik, he said we would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade and we did.

He went to Berlin and said “Ich bin ein Berliner,” thereby connecting with a population oppressed by communism and giving them hope.

He told us all to do what we could for our country and not ask our country to do for us.

This region of North Carolina where I live in particular owes much to John F. Kennedy and his successor, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, for so many programs that have enhanced our quality of life and economic status over the years.

Was JFK flawed and did he make mistakes? Of course.

The Bay of Pigs failure — the failure to support Brigade 2506’s invasion of Cuba — comes to mind. That was a huge mistake However, when Russia’s Nikita Khrushchev put missiles in Cuba he had the courage to set up a blockade. Mistakes can be fixed and strategies changed.

This 50th anniversary of a terrible, violent event should be used as an opportunity to start a dialogue as to how differing views can be brought together.

There are so many wedge issues created in today’s politics just for the sake of pandering for a few votes.

It’s OK to be labeled a liberal or a conservative.

These are not bad words unless we let them be. What is not OK is to allow differing philosophies to bog down our capacity as a community to create a better world.

Fifty years later, I still believe that there is a solution to every problem if we will just sit down and work out the issues with respect for each other and an open mind.

Roger Carlton, Lake Santeetlah, NC

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