What might have been in Camelot

The tragic events of November 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, remind us, not just how fragile life can be, but how life is a series of random events that leads us down paths we are incapable of predicting.

57 years ago today Kennedy was actually in the midst of early preparations for running for re-election as our nation’s president. He had become, in the short time since his 1960 election, a more popular political figure than he was when he bested Richard Nixon.

Questions now abound since he was shot and killed that Friday in 1963 just after noon.

Would JFK have participated in a rematch with Nixon? Would he have been re-elected? How did the events of that day affect America’s future? Would Nixon have ever become president? How about Lyndon Johnson? Would the Vietnam war have gone as it did? Would there ever have been a break in at the Watergate? Would I have still been drafted? Would you know who have still developed bone spurs? Would Reagan have helped bring down the Berlin Wall? Would there still have been a 9/11? Would our lives today be different? We cannot possibly know.

Our President-elect, Joe Biden, had just turned 21 years old a few days prior to the murder of John Kennedy. It would be interesting, I think, to hear his recollections of that dreadful day and his interpretation of how it may have shaped the future of our nation.

I was an 8th grader the day Kennedy was shot. To this day I still get chills when I think about hearing the news while in music class at James M. Bennett in Salisbury. I can recall the dead silence and the reactions of my teacher. I also remember the long days in the aftermath of the assassination leading up to a dark celebration of Thanksgiving just a few days later. I can still hear the cadence of the drum beats in my head from the funeral possession down Pennsylvania Avenue in DC.

I saw adults cry. I saw Walter Cronkite cry. I never knew adults could cry!

Americans, me included, were glued to the television in those days. Many of us witnessed “live” TV showing Jack Ruby shoot and kill the alleged Kennedy assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, in the basement of the police station in Dallas on November 24. I watched it at my grandmother’s house. We could not believe our eyes. In those days there was no video replay.

It was a horrifying time to be alive. Thankfully, even though there have been attempts on an American president’s life, no citizen in the past 57 years has had to endure such a national tragedy. Hopefully, that streak will continue unabated.

It is interesting to note how the weather played a part in the Kennedy assassination. When Kennedy and the First Lady arrived at the Love Field airport the skies were still cloudy after an early morning rainfall. Had the rain continued it is likely that a plexiglass dome would have been placed over the convertible in which the Kennedy’s were to ride through Dealy Plaza in downtown Dallas.

Suddenly, the sun appeared and the temperature shot up to a warm 70 degrees. The motorcade then preceded without cover on the convertible. Again, a reminder that life is composed of a series of random events.

Salisbury experienced a glorious 67 degree day on that fateful date in 1963. Kids were singing along with “Sugar Shack” in America while most of their stay-at-home mothers were tuned in to the soap opera, “Days of Our Lives”.

The weather in Salisbury today will remain mild with a high temp near 63 degrees under cloudy skies with an easterly wind. We may receive some showers overnight into Monday morning. Monday will be cooler with a high near 57.

Does anyone other than me find it ironic that the numbers 63 and 57 are a part of the immediate forecast? Just more proof that life is a series of random events.


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