Friday marks the day when, 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Since then, Kennedy’s presidency is consistently remembered by Americans as one of the greatest. Whether or not this is earned is mostly irrelevant to the American public, which remembers him as a young, thoughtful and witty president, the face of a nation and the face of an era before it was torn asunder by the coming struggles of Vietnam and Watergate.
These are thoughts and opinions on JFK — both the man and his presidency — from around the Internet on the day before the 50th anniversary of his death.
“Fifty years after the death of John F. Kennedy, there's no mystery about why his brief presidency remains an object of fascination: It was glamorous, photogenic, and cut short by an assassination that still seems an insoluble puzzle,” Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times says. He calls JFK's presidency a “presidency on a pedestal,” remembered with often rose-tinted glasses, remarkable for its ability to hold such a high standing among the public, despite in reality rarely living up to its hype. “It's remarkable that Kennedy's iconic stature in the eyes of most Americans has weathered half a century of assaults, some of them from his own archives, as the less savory side of Camelot has slowly come to light.”
Warren Bennis writes at CNN on JFK’s unrealized — or at least under-appreciated — potential when it came to leadership. “I believe Kennedy's legacy as a leader during the immensely difficult times of the early 1960s has been underestimated — today, his imprint on the world political scene is powerful and far-reaching.” Bennis recalls watching JFK handle such events as the Cuban Missile Crisis with deftness, and the things JFK learned from averting nuclear war. "Kennedy learned that in order to succeed, he must create a culture of candor among his inner circle, that he needed the confidence to hear their truths, and his team in turn the courage and freedom to speak those truths."
On The Hill, John Feerey looks at the world 50 years later, and the changes that have taken place. “Nobody would have imagined that 50 years later, the current hot social issue would be the right of homosexuals to legally marry. Nor would have anybody imagined that women would represent the majority of college graduates, or that the Democratic Party now has more minorities in its House caucus than white men.” Kennedy left behind the seeds to a civil and cultural revolution that dramatically changed the face to the nation in the decades following his untimely demise.
And perhaps most poignant of all, the Washington Post has uncovered its original editorial from the day after the assassination. “The mind does not readily accept the terrible truth,” it reads, perhaps best summing up that first impression to the news, and perhaps the impression that has had the biggest impact on his legacy.
Freeman Stevenson is a Snow College grad and a writer for the Deseretnews.com Opinion section and Brandview. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org