Archived Story

Nation continues to mourn

Published 12:11am Sunday, November 24, 2013

During the past couple of weeks, the media has become saturated with history specials, conspiracy theories and retrospectives on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The 50th anniversary of his death came and went Friday with tributes paid to the youngest elected president the country has ever had.

I started to wonder, why is this such a fascinating topic for so many people? For those who lived it, Nov. 22, 1963, is unforgettable.

But what about the rest of us?

I am too young to have been alive in 1963 but ever ingrained in my mind is the image of the beautiful Jackie Kennedy in her pink suit, trying to climb out of the back of that Lincoln limousine in Dallas, Texas.

That’s thanks — or no thanks, depending on how you look at it — to the Zapruder film. That short, grainy home movie that captured an American tragedy and has been watched more times than any piece of film since the invention of film.

The Zapruder film i`s an eerie way of transporting you back in time to witness something that most people who were alive at the time can still recall with startling precision where they were when they heard the news that Kennedy was shot.

I asked my grandmother where she was when she heard the president had been shot. I asked her if she thought we, as Americans, should continue to remember the event.

Jane Goodman was 38 years old and working at Blackwelder’s Toy Land in our hometown of Concord, N.C. They didn’t have a TV in the store, but the radio was on.

She recalled as the news of the assassination became widespread, people flooded the toy store to buy up the Jackie and Caroline Kennedy Madame Alexander dolls.

She told me she thought the assassination was just so terrible and shocking because Kennedy was such a good president and that he was trying to do good things to help the American citizens.

She was 100 percent positive that remembering the Kennedy assassination was the right thing to do because the president sincerely cared about the people.

But why, half a century later, commemorate such a gruesome event?

For my grandmother, it didn’t seem to be about dredging up painful memories, but honoring a great leader who deserved remembrance.

And for those who lived through it, it’s probably impossible to forget and special commemorations are not needed to remember those gunshots heard around the world.

So why should I partake in remembering something I’ve only read about and seen secondhand on the National Geographic channel?

I don’t really have a good answer for that. I’ll never feel the same way about the Kennedy assassination as my grandmother or anyone else who lived through it.

I don’t have the same connection to it, even though it is one of the most infamous moments in American history.

Each generation has its own historical moment to hold on to, the one to remember.

I’ll always know where I was and what I was doing on Sept. 11. I’ll always remember how I felt, the utter shock and fear, the intense surge of patriotism that swept the country.

And in that way, I understand why people feel the need to remember the Kennedy assassination and to talk about where they were when it happened.

It brings back all those memories of how the country united in mourning and for a brief time, everyone had one thing in common.

It is just sad that the one thing that is always guaranteed to bring us together as Americans and humans is a tragedy.

 

Michelle Goodman is the news editor at The Tribune. To reach her, call 740-532-1441 ext. 12 or by email at michelle.goodman@irontontribune.com

 

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