November 25, 1964
Jocie Brooke reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. It’s been a sad week here in Hollyhill as everybody was remembering the assassination this time last year. Dad put this picture on the front page of the Hollyhill Banner. There was regular news, but it didn’t seem to matter than much this week. Or even that basketball season is about to start at school. Oh, the guys still practiced and the cheerleaders were smiling and jumping around like always. Especially that Vanessa who thinks she is sooo cute. Well, she is so cute, but she doesn’t have to think she is. Aunt Love would put her in her place quick as anything. Aunt Love says pretty is more than skin deep. I sure hope so since I’ve got a ways to go to be pretty. Wes says I’m pretty enough, that sometimes girls my age put on blinders when they look in the mirror. I tell him I need his Jupiter mirror that makes everybody look good.
But none of that kept us from remembering when we first heard the terrible news last year that President Kennedy had been shot in Texas. I was at school, coming down the stairway from history class to health class. Somebody, Jacob Renner, I think, was going up the steps and telling everybody that the president had been assassinated. I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t believe it. Jacob’s one of those boys who likes to be the center of attention and I thought he was just acting stupid. Maybe. But saying the president had been shot wasn’t anything to be acting stupid about. So I didn’t know if he was lying or not. I went in health class and asked the teacher. Mr. Kincaid got a funny look on his face and said, yes, it was true. I don’t know how he knew. Maybe he has a radio he listens to between classes. Maybe the principal had heard it on the radio in the office and passed along the news.
However we found out the news, it was something none of us wanted to believe. Not President Kennedy who always seemed so full of life. Who wouldn’t even wear a winter coat no matter how cold it was. Who had two kids. Little kids. They were going to feel deserted. I know about that. My mother didn’t get shot, but she left. She deserted me a long time ago. Maybe that’s even worse since she did it because she wanted to, not because somebody shot her and didn’t give her a choice.
But I’m thinking about President Kennedy now and not my mother. It seemed impossible that he would be gone. Even now a whole year later, nobody really knows why it happened. They don’t know if it could have been prevented. They don’t know if Oswald had help. They don’t know so much, but in the years to come, surely answers will be found.
President Kennedy made some great speeches. Everybody remembers him telling us to ask not what our country could do for us but what we could do for our country. I don’t want to forget that. Then Dad put this quote in the article he wrote about the anniversary of President Kennedy’s death. “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
Here’s another one he said. “Our growing softness, our increasing lack of physical fitness, is a menace to our society.” I’m going to remember that, both of them, and try to ride my bicycle more and be thankful this Thanksgiving for the earth air I breathe.