Monday, November 18, 2013


I was Canadian and he was American. I was a college student and he was the President. On November 22nd , 1963 I was delivering blueprints to an architects’ office in St. Catharine’s, Ontario. On that same day, President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie were in a motorcade entering Dealey Plaza in Dallas Texas. As I left my van, a radio reporter announced that JFK was dead. He was 46 years old, and I was 21.

The dissimilarity between our lives, his and mine couldn’t be more evident. Yet, that event collided with my young adult life with surprising impact. I was wrapped in the pseudo Camelot like legend that was the Kennedy era. From the moment that he was elected on November 8, 1960, I read all that I could find about Kennedy. In 1960 at the University of Illinois during an Urbana conference for young Christian adults, I made a decision, a commitment, to set aside my aspirations to be a graphic artist, and to train to be a church pastor. At 18 years of age, with my life filled with dreams and possibilities, Kennedy’s relative youth in a North American political culture comprised of ancients, inspired me. I was undiscerning about Kennedy to be sure, never allowing myself to believe the poisonous press that suggested his marital infidelity and his addiction to prescription drugs. History’s truth became defined with passing years. Yet at that Dallas moment fifty years ago, a tragic reality distressed my worldview. King Arthur sang, “Don't let it be forgot / That once there was a spot / For one brief shining moment / That was known as Camelot!” My consequent conclusion was that the Kennedy years were not a real Camelot story after all. My own life was my compelling story, which, impelled by implicit trust in God would propel me through the decades to satisfy the dreams of a distant youth.

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