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JFK and I

I was ten years old when a teacher whose name I do not remember barged into my fifth grade classroom and cried out, “The President has been shot. They think he is dead!” I can still feel that electric bolt of shock shoot through my body, I can still smell the severe scent of dread.

Ten years old was a very tender age of development. It was a time when I began to feel the first flourish of abstract reasoning and I was looking for role models. JFK was one of my first chosen role models. I admired how he wore the cloak of leadership. It all started for me when my mother drove us to a mall close to where we lived in New York because he was campaigning and driving through town. We got to see him standing up in the limousine waving to the crowd, waving to us, waving to me. He was handsome and winsome. He had a beautiful smile and soulful eyes. Those were the days when you could actually get close enough to notice and appreciate smiles and eyes.

I became a fan of JFK on that day. I had a schoolgirl crush on him. I loved him like I loved the Beatles. I watched him debate Nixon, I saw him take the oath of office in the freezing cold with his warm breath visibly condensing in the frigid air. I was ten years old, a very tender age.

Those days of mourning over the loss of JFK were horrifying, sorrowful and greatly intensified by witnessing Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald live on TV. I was home alone when I saw it. More trauma. I still feel traumatized when I think about it. All the grown-ups around me were also in a state of shock and so incredibly sad.

Our country was forever changed with the assassination of JFK and everything he symbolized. We lost an innovative, energizing and a global thinker. The New Frontier was now spattered with blood. How could someone who was anti-fragile (able to grow and thrive from some major physical and health challenges) be taken out in a few Zapruder film frames? I was never the same either as the curtain lowered on my childhood innocence and my first experience of profound loss introduced itself to me.

RIP JFK.

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