The nation is shocked and bewildered by the senseless assassination of President Kennedy.
As this is written, the terrible news is so fresh in the mind that the senses can’t quite absorb it. The president dead? It can’t be! But it is.
The mind reels backward to the death in office of another president – 1945 and the late Franklin D. Roosevelt. But that was different. He had served his country as chief executive long and faithfully, he was old and ill; no matter how much shock, the mind could accept it.
But John F. Kennedy! Young, vigorous, with most of his career as president presumably ahead of him; now dead, the slate wiped clean by an assassin’s bullet.
The tragedy is personal to Mrs. Kennedy and their two children. No grief can equal that which she felt as she cradled her husband’s head in her lap. The thoughts and sympathies of all of us are with her and the two small children who now must grow up without any real memories of their father because he chose to serve his country and to take the risks that went with that service.
Mr. Kennedy placed his life at the disposal of the United States in World War II and nearly lost it. But he also laid his life on the line every time he ventured into public view as president. This he knew, yet he did it willingly because he had a deep sense of responsibility to his country.
John F. Kennedy was truly a remarkable man. He was born with riches at his disposal and this could well have made him soft and luxury-loving. Instead he was instilled with a great sense of duty – his obligation to return to the country that had rewarded him and his family so well a full measure of devotion.
He became president of the United States at one of the most perilous periods of its existence. He was raised to the most powerful position in the world, at a time when that world was threatened with nuclear holocaust.
He was a man of decision and a man of courage. He knew that he had nobody else to rely upon in the final analysis – except his Maker – and he grasped the responsibilities put upon him and did the best he knew.
Men die daily, even young men. They die in many ways and many places. So the loss of one man’s life cannot be considered the end of the world, nor even create more than just a momentary interruption of the ongoing process of human existence.
Mr. Kennedy without doubt knew this. He would not have us linger for long at his grave, but would instill in us the same kind of spirit that led him to carry forward when comrades died at his side during World War II.
John F. Kennedy served his countrymen well and faithfully. They mourn him in deepest sorrow today and only hope that his death will inspire in others the kind of devoted service and courage he personified.