not fifty years. not really.

We thought you would not die—we were sure you would not go,
And leave us in our utmost need to Cromwell’s cruel blow—
Sheep without a shepherd, when the snow shuts out the sky—
O! why did you leave us, Eoghan? Why did you die?

My first crush was a little-girl crush on Our President. I had a crush on his whole family. The men were tall, the women were beautiful, the kids were adorable. Like the positive of Lake Wobegon, I think now. I loved how they all took care of each other, and how they all gave the impression of liking to hang around with one another. I imagined they were like our family, we had our differences, but we didn't talk trash about each other in front of strangers. Of course I loved hanging with my cousins, we were all goofy little kids, one of the aunts said watching us chase each other around a pile of leaves was like watching a pet shop window at feeding time. I figured one of our boys could grow up to be president, and my sister and I would get to have snappy clothes and a boat. I truly believed good things could happen and our handsome fearless President would protect us from bad guys.
Jack got good grades and went into politics,
so he didn't have to go on the force
Our President died young and died horribly. Dr. King died horribly. Our President's brother died horribly. Bad guys got badder. The world just stopped, and even after everyone stopped crying, things were never quite on track. Three of my five boy cousins died young. Neither of the remaining two became President, nor did I nor did my sister.
yes, he was a handsome lad
As an adult, you hear things that are not mentioned in front of children, you analyze history, facts, results in a way that children do not know. But not today, not this day, not now.

At this time of year, I bristle at things I might otherwise let go. I quiver when people speak disrespectfully of our elected officials, because I learned early on that disrespect leads to contempt and contempt can lead to terrifying tragedy. I know that we are entitled to express disagreement, and, especially at the state and municipal level, disagreement is often most accurately expressed with laughter. At the federal level, things are much more serious, and this calls for reason and cooperation, not contempt.

Defenceless under the night 
Our world in stupor lies; 
Yet, dotted everywhere, 
Ironic points of light
 Flash out wherever the Just 
Exchange their messages: 
May I, composed like them 
Of Eros and of dust, 
Beleaguered by the same 
Negation and despair, 
Show an affirming flame. 

In tragedy, I learned to pray for the President when I was quite young. Today in hope I pray for another president and his family, and I pray for peace. It's what we do in our family - we love one another.


  1. The possibility that a family could be torn by such an event, that this could happen at all, this is what I remember realizing in my innocence. Thank you for this post.

  2. lovely post. And the Kennedys were (and are) perfection in their imperfections and their desire to serve.

  3. Beautiful post Fred. I've been thinking about it all day, 50 years... and If Only.

  4. Spot on, Fred. Thank you for this post.

  5. Yes beautifully written post about an iconic but very real family who were represented hope and a wondrous joy to America.

  6. Quote:
    At the federal level, things are much more serious, and this calls for reason and cooperation, not contempt.

    When a president lies to the public he shows a profound lack of respect, contempt if you will, for the electorate and he cannot command respect for himself or the office he holds. Things are much more serious indeed.

  7. Thanks Fred for this lovely post. I remember hearing the news, I was living in England and it seemed so far away but so overwhelming. Little did I know at the time I would come to live in America as child and again as an adult. As DaniDP said…If Only we will never know.


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