America deeply mourned Abraham Lincoln's death in 1865...and for years after.
As well, it mourned John Kennedy's death for many years post November 22nd, 1963.
Books and movie tickets of their deaths still sell, that's accurate. (Bill O'Reilly's almost made a cottage industry of both Presidents' deaths.) His National Geographic film will soon be on the airwaves.
The film, Parkland will add to the public's interest in just a few days, re JFK's last minutes alive and the intersection of people's lives who were with him when death came to him.
Why is it so?
Why do these two Presidents' deaths have their roots so deeply in the soil of American political thought?
Other men who served as Chief Executives of this country died in office.
And even some of them died at the hands of assassins. Not all, but some.
They are not the recipients of such attention.
It's understandable that Lincoln's death was the united grieving moment of a country that saw 600,000 of it's brothers, sons and husbands die. At the moment of Lincoln's assassination, EVERY person in that-America lost someone they knew -- or at least someone whom they thought they knew: Mr. Lincoln.
It was that way in my family.
Six of the seven siblings in my birth family were alive, one had not yet been born. Four of the seven were old enough to know what was going on, three of those four were in school that day and heard from their teachers the news - in tears it was delivered & in tears it was received.
And those tears are recalled this month as 50 years unfurls its flag of time.
Maybe it's because we collectively "saw" him die...over and over again. Abraham Zapruder's film ensured that we would. We saw his unique spark of life leave him at a specific moment in time - in the time it takes an assassin to chamber a next round and squeeze the trigger.
Yet, many people alive in the United States at that time are now dead, themselves. No more tears come from them.
And for those who were born since, the tale of JFK's death is reduced to a series of questions about conspiracies and vague shadowy figures, weapons, rounds and autopsy tables.
The case of his Dallas death has now replaced the case of his entire life's work.
Kennedy, the man, has become an anachronism of sorts. A silent player in his own play. His is an image of "youth" captured by black & white film, but he's not really real.
In a sense, the man has become a prop. A needed prop so that a "death industry" can continue.
When I read Vincent Bugliosi's amazing book "Reclaiming History", I set aside the theories. I closed the file on conspiracies and I instead looked at the President - I began concentrating on his policies - on what he did and didn't do.
Just as I did with the other men who came and went in the Oval Office - men who served and retired - men who loved America and led it. Men who died and went the way of history's tattered pages.
With the understandable epoch of 50 years, I'll watch and remember the days when I was 7 years old and in second grade in 1963 in Texas - miles away from Dallas in San Antonio. I'll remember the images, real and contrived around the funeral. I'll remember the grief and national loss. I'll do it for the last time.
And I'll look forward to national gain, as well.
I'm choosing to stop remembering JFK's death.
I will choose to recall his Presidency.
The headstone on this choice reads November 22nd,1963- November 22nd, 2013.
In reality, I choose the future.
50 years from now, when those Americans, choose to pursue life, liberty and happiness may they do so with their own youthful leaders - men and women who really are who they make themselves out to be. Presidents and leaders who remember not just the hope of a young president named Jack, but also the hope of one named Teddy and a wise man in his 50's named Abraham and all the founding fathers who were brothers to each other.
Brothers who remembered that they served a nation in this world while preparing to serve a God in the next.
That next life world John Kennedy was slammed into by the force of a round through his throat and then a final round through his life, is real. Jack Kennedy would tell you just how real it is, if he was allowed to today.
If the day ever comes when God's hand is taken away from this country, all the bones of once mighty and patriotic men and women who gave their lives for this nation would assemble and call out Ichabod.
Leading them would be a once young man, the youngest president ever elected.
May the future for our nation become what those in our past hoped it would be.
For me, may the curtain now fall on the continued anniversary of JFK's death.