As you likely know, November 22nd marked a dark anniversary date in American history. It marked the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. Those who lived through it remember it as an emotional day. Mary, The Flag Lady, remembers it as an especially sad day for her because she had a strong respect for the President.
Mary’s high regard for President Kennedy remains alive to this day. The primary cause of her respect can be traced to his love of his country. Kennedy served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and was passionate about his country remaining a nation worthy of the world’s admiration. His famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do you; ask what you can do for your country” embodies a challenge and devotion to country which stirred Mary, as well as her fellow Americans. Because she was too young to vote in Presidential elections prior to 1960, “Jack” was the first candidate she was able to vote for as President, still a point of pride for Mary.
Another reason why Mary thought highly of Kennedy was his family. She thinks Jacqueline Kennedy was the embodiment of what a First Lady should be: gracious, supportive and graceful. Her charm meshed perfectly with his charisma to create a couple that personified the American spirit. Not only were Jack and Jackie the all-American couple, the Kennedys were the all-American family. Mary loved to see the Kennedy family interacting together. Mary felt that when you saw the Kennedys together as a family, you were seeing the best of America. Mary was not the only family member who was fascinated by the Kennedy family; her eldest child, five-year-old daughter Lori, loved to watch Caroline Kennedy whenever she appeared on television.
It was this strong admiration for the President and his family made the events of November 22, 1963 so difficult for Mary. Like most Americans, Mary grew up learning about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. She was always struck by how sad that it must have been for Americans to deal with the death of the President. She never dreamed that she would learn first-hand just how hard it was.
She was preparing lunch for her three children when she heard the shocking news on the radio that the President had been shot. She would spend most of the next hours and days mesmerized by the news coverage of that awful day. Her late husband, Tom, was in Texas for business. They were able to connect by phone later in the day to discuss their shared sorrow. Later, Tom and Mary would tour the landmarks associated with that fateful day that Mary will never forget.
Many of you reading this story likely remember the day of Kennedy’s death as vividly as The Flag Lady. Or maybe you know someone who does remember our 35th President. We invite you to take a moment to ask someone else their recollections of President Kennedy so that the memory of a President who loved and served his country will survive for future generations.