As the news media has been reporting all week, this is the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. I was attending Junior College the day he was shot and I still remember the details of that day clearly. Anyone who was a teen or adult at that time experienced the stunning news with disbelief. Later everyone would talk about how he was taken from us too early and he had so much more to give. I think he did have a lot more to give us but we can’t change the past. Still we wonder what it would have been like if he had been allowed to fulfill his life’s purpose.

Last night I saw the special on CNN about the assassination. As the commentators looked back on that time one of them said that JFK’s death was the beginning of our country’s dissatisfaction with our leaders because so many people became convinced that it was a conspiracy. As I thought about it I realized it was true. His death was followed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King Junior and Bobby Kennedy which brought more conspiracy theories. They were followed by the Viet Nam war protests which caused LBJ to drop out of the Presidential race. Then there was Watergate and Nixon’s resignation, our inability to rescue the U.S. hostages in Iran, the Contra scandal in Nicaragua, the Monica Lewinski scandal and President Clinton’s impeachment, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economic collapse of our economy which has lasted five years so far and shows no signs of serious recovery. And we have to include the local, state and national debts, to say nothing of the gridlock in Federal government. Why have our leaders been so ineffective?

Some of you don’t remember this, but I can remember when our citizens trusted our elected officials. That trust was justified because they knew how to compromise and unite together for the good of our country. But those days are gone. I for one hope they return.

Who among us would have thought that the death of President Kennedy would have been the first of so many disappointments? I never expected it. And that brings me to my point. When we think of JFK we remember the good times and his ability to inspire us. It stands in direct contrast to the time we currently live in.  It wasn’t a perfect time and he was not a perfect man, but all of our citizens believed unquestioningly in the American Dream. We don’t today. Perhaps this contrast is an important part of his life’s purpose. And perhaps his death was meant to allow his memory to stand in direct contrast to our current situation so that we would ask, “Why can’t our country be like it was when John Fitzgerald Kennedy  was alive?”