In the sixth grade, our lesson was interrupted by the school secretary coming to the door with a note for our teacher. He read the note, and we could all tell that something serious had happened. He was visibly shaken. He stood up, paused, collected himself and told us that our president had been shot and killed. He then led us in a group prayer in a public school.
That would not be allowed today. It's one of those "good old days" blessings we didn't fully realize at the time. We were dismissed early that day. There wasn't a lot of chatter as we left the building.
The mood at home that night was somber. We ate dinner in silence. The TV stayed on during dinner, something that was never allowed. We all listened. A time that sticks in one's memory. It felt like things may never be the same again. Like 9/11.
Kennedy's request that we "ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country" resonated with me as a child and guided my decisions on public service. I also admired the Kennedy family's formation of the Special Olympics and the plight of people with developmental disabilities. An area lacking at the time. He had a man put on the moon. A magical time of possibilities. None more graphic than that feat.
JFK was gone, but so many great initiatives were born on his watch. It felt like the magic was gone when he left that day. But he left us with proof that just about anything was possible to achieve.