Fifty years since assassination
Friday, November 22 marks half a century since President John F. Kennedy was shot dead in Dealy Plaza, Dallas, Texas at the age of 46. He is the most recent U.S. president to be assassinated or die in office.
The event unquestionably was a defining moment for several generations of Americans and the impact of the assassination continued decades after his death. This week American reflects on the historic assassination, what was and what could have been.
Three Rockland legislators offered remembrance and reflections upon the event to the Rockland County Times.
County Executive-elect Legislator Ed Day (R):
“I was in my 8th grade class when we found out the president was assassinated. Even though we had read about assassinations in American history past, this became an unspeakable chapter in real life to this then 12-year-old. I learned that, unlike many nations, our country and our way of life will survive even the most unspeakable acts. That is what makes America so unique and special. I also learned that public service means exactly that – ‘service before self.'”
Legislator John Murphy (R):
“I was attending graduate classes at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, just after returning home from active duty in the Marine Corps, when the president was assassinated. I learned how enduring and disastrous ‘hate,’ a cancer of the mind, can be. I was ashamed that the act was done by a former US Marine, as I am, as I respected our president and our commander-in-chief, who was known to us as a genuine Naval hero.
“I have learned that haters; deranged by their mind cancer, are everywhere at every level of government and manifest their hate in many forms, from personal harassment and of course to the ultimate forms of assassination and terrorism. The level of civility in politics and government must be elevated and ‘hate’ replaced by respect for all points of views.”
Former Chairman of the Legislature Kenneth Ingenito (D):
“I was teaching at St John’s Prep, an all boys Catholic school, in Brookyln, sixth period History class. We received the news and it was the first time I had seen 16-year-old boys shed tears. The headmaster immediately convened a mass at our church. I observed approximately 900 of the 1,500 students standing on the confessional lines. Normally there were about 200 on the confessional lines during our weekly mass.
“That evening my family was attempting to celebrate our daughter’s first birthday since she was born Nov 22, 1962. Needless to say it was not much of a celebration. It was difficult to sing Happy Birthday to a 1-year-old baby. But we tried.
“The impact on me as an American? I became more American and realize the risks public officials take for just doing their job.”
If you would like your thoughts recorded, send a reflection on the assassination to firstname.lastname@example.org