Thursday, August 27, 2009


I was born in February 1977, almost 14 years after John Kennedy was assassinated and 9 years after his brother Bobby met the same fate. I doubt my parents are even old enough to remember where they were when JFK was shot. I wonder then, why I still manage to get choked up at the old news footage of the assassinations, the funerals, and all of it. You'd think, by not having my own personal remembrances of those events, and by the shear amount of times I've seen the footage, that it wouldn't affect me. I should be desensitized to it. Besides the general tragedy of it all, it just shouldn't affect me like it does. But it does. Every time. I always get that lump in my throat and make a little squeak, trying to hold back the emotion.

I guess it must have something to do with the mystique and the legend of it all, right? For all of my life, the fascination with the Kennedy family has been there, and it's made them our Royal family, for lack of a better term. We care about them.

When we all mourned the death of JFK Jr. in 1999, I was 22. I remember it vividly. Saturday morning, sitting in the living room on NW 34th St, by myself. I cried. And of course, when you think of JFK Jr., you think of that image of a little child, saluting his father's casket as it passed, so many years ago. And that's what chokes me up, to this day. That old footage, from a time when change might have really mattered. I wonder where we'd be now, if it had all happened differently.

A few months ago, I watched a documentary on the Kennedy family, on OETA. It was so interesting. There's so much about the family that I didn't know. Before watching this 2 hour show, I knew about the tragedy and a little about the family secrets. Rosemary's story, for example, is very sad. The competition between the siblings was so intense when they were growing up. I read a while ago, that some believe Rosemary was actually a normal child, who basically just broke from the pressure of not being at the high level that her siblings were at, intellectually. The theory is that in a "regular/normal" family, she wouldn't have had any mental issues at all. It's an interesting, though disturbing, thought.

That same documentary also shed a lot of light on who JFK really was. You always think of him as The Good Guy. But he was so shrewd. Of course, in his position, he had to be. But it was shocking to hear just how cunning he was. He seemed so underhanded in a lot of ways. It was unsettling to think about. But why was it unsettling? He's long since dead and has no more influence, good or bad. However, hearing something that makes him seem so much less than perfect, is sort of like hearing that your Grandma spent a night in jail when she was 16. You have to remind yourself that she wasn't always the person you knew. And JFK definitely wasn't always the person that you hear about now. The dead are almost always saints, especially when surrounded by so much tragedy.

Now, with the death of Ted Kennedy on Wednesday, it's sort of the end of it all, isn't it? Do we care about the rest of them? Of course, we care because they are human beings, but do we still care, because they are Kennedys? I don't think so, honestly. I think it's all over. That legend is officially dead and will soon be buried.

Will it matter? Will this nation be any different now that our Royal family is gone? Time will tell.

As a side note, I also wonder how Mary Jo Kopechne's family feels today? I'm sure for them, the mystique a lot of us feel, was dead a long time ago.


Anonymous said...

Actually as you mentioned in an earlier comment about you, this is one of my earliest memories. I guess I was 3 or 4 years old and I remember sitting on the floor of my parents house on 15th street in the living room watching TV. It was an old black and white TV. I think I remember so well because it was the first time I got in trouble over something that I would never have expected to get in trouble over. It was the funeral and they had televised it. I don't remember hearing the actual news although I do know that I was with my Momma and her friend Remona and we were downtown shopping. They heard and we immediately came home. I know this because I was told this not because I remember it. As we were watching the funeral on TV I started counting the cars following the hearse. That is when I found out that in my family the belief that counting cars in a funeral is considered bad luck. So to this day I will not count cars in a funeral.