“President Kennedy died today at 1:00 p.m., Central Standard Time.”

kennedy-motorcadeAs irony would have it the soap opera, “As The World Turns” was interrupted with Walter Cronkite’s famous announcement on television in 1963.  As the world does turn, it truly stood still for quite some time with Kennedy’s death 52 years ago tomorrow.

My older sister and I often mused that no one has an opinion if not around that day.  As aging people, we set our tragic mark using that time as a background for future conversations about world events.  I guess those around on 9/11 have their tragic mark and I also guess that tragic events can mark most of us.  So, let the opinions roll.

I didn’t know anyone who died September 11 but have heard many New Yorkers talk about it as raw now as it was then.  You think you should forget yet you do not want to forget.  Parents who lose a twelve year old to an incurable disease experience a personal tragedy that will color (or discolor) the rest of their lives.

To a sixth grader, hearing the president was killed had an impact but was only impacted by the reactions of surrounding adults.  After lunch we had finished our daily rosary and beginning the afternoon when the sister-principal announced what Walter had just said.  Our sixth grade nun made us kneel down for another round of the rosary decades.  Watching a documentary of those fateful days, Kennedy was first in Fort Worth and then off to Dallas to regain support for his reelection.  Leaving the Fort Worth airport, he snidely said, “I thought I’d be killed here” instead of one hour later in Dallas.

With numbing terrorism in places most of us have never been, we try to make sense of what our fives senses cannot make sense of.  From Paris to the Congo, we still feel safe yet wonder if this ingenious way of warring will eat away our humanity and its virtues of goodwill and hope.  Our “sixth” sense seems to be reason which leaves us with very little, if anything.  Kennedy’s drama is still sixth-less 52 years later and we can easily reason a Muslim’s poor theology is the culprit for growing terrorism.  Muslim religion came up at lunch the other day and a friend said that “they get a planet when they die.”  I calmly said, “that’s the Mormons and it’s questionable they really believe that.”

Very few of us are players on this world stage.  We do our simple things everyday with our simple children in our simple towns with simple values that we wish will endure.  We look to our respective beliefs, our hopes and dreams for our children and we pray that they can handle tragedies the same as we’ve tried, if not better.  The tragedies are the benchmarks and the silent stoppers that empower us to keep praying and keep hoping, not for an elusive reason but a constant resolve that we can do better.

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About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. He is associate pastor of partnering parishes, Christ King and St. Bernard parishes in Wauwatosa, WI.
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