Yale University

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Remembering John Kennedy

Howard Gillette

November 13, 2013

Category: Society > Government and Politics

In a few days the media will be saturated with recollections of the day President Kennedy was killed.  I have always felt a bit embarrassed that even after the news of the shooting reached us that November afternoon I continued playing a soccer match I had looked forward to for weeks because a former prep-school friend was playing on the opposite side for his Harvard house.  Joe Lieberman responded more adeptly by penning an editorial that some of our classmates remember fifty years later.

I am in the final stages of a book chronicling our college years and the effects of the turbulent era that followed our graduation. I would be interested to hear from classmates not just what they were doing that day, but how Kennedy’s death affected them over the years. Jon McBride recounts that the trauma of that experience stayed with him a long time.

We’ve had some distance from both the man and the event now. In the class poll conducted for our 50th, Kennedy ranked fifth in the assessment of our best presidents, well behind Clinton and Reagan.  Was that because his term was so short, or that we came to evaluate critically his policies over time?  Recently, one of his aides claimed that Kennedy had definitively set in motion the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam. Had that happened, would our opinion of him be different?

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