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Saturday, 23 November 2013

Remembering JFK – After 50 years, the Mystery is not solved – The World saw JFK as a hero standing for the ideals of freedom

On Friday Nov 22, I followed most TV channels and watched many documentaries for the commemoration of JFK's assassination. It bogles my mind to see that after all these years the shooting of the president is not yet solved. Still they're is an argument, weather the shot came from the front or the back.  Nor they know why Jack Ruby killed Oswald. 

As the nation or maybe the whole world pauses to remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 50 years to the day, My mind wanders to Tehran and the moment I heard the news. I was 15. It was Saturday morning and I was on my way to school (Saturday in Iran is a school day)  I remember the exact spot where I met my friend and when she asked me if I have heard the news and I said, "what news?"  And she told me that President Kennedy was killed.

My brother tells me on that Saturday morning when he went to school, he saw the boys were reading newspaper and the title in bold letters (of course in Farsi) said that President Kennedy died.  My husband says on that Saturday morning when he went to school, there was a line written on the black-board which read, "Our master died."

It was a somber day for America however many people around the world shared the sentiments.  The world saw JFK as a hero standing for the ideals of freedom. I think no other president has achieved such a global admiration and left an indelible legacy and all that was achieved only within 1000 days of his presidency.  Here are the words not too often heard from the inaugural address on January 22, 1961.  

“My fellow citizens of the world: Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

The following is a post by Jack Neworth in Santa Monica Daily Press.
He remembers the day JFK took a dip in Santa Monica

As we’ve been inundated for the past weeks, today marks the 50th anniversary of one of the darkest days in America’s history. In some aspects, I don’t think we’ve ever recovered.
On his 1,000th day in office, President John F. Kennedy was brutally assassinated in an open limousine motorcade in Dallas with his wife, Jackie, by his side. Eerily, Nellie Connally, wife of Texas Gov. John Connally, had just commented, “Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you.”
In these cynical times it may be difficult for today’s youth to imagine, but JFK inspired much of my generation. With all that has been written about the dark side of Camelot, I still admire him. I suppose a boy’s hero stays with him forever.
JFK was handsome, charming and had a great wit. And the First Family was like no other before. Jackie was beautiful and elegant and the Kennedys had two adorable children. You could even say that I ditched school because of JFK. You see, Kennedy held frequent press conferences where he’d display charm and humor. (He was considered the first “TV era” president.) I somehow managed to see most of them, even if it meant cutting classes.
As JFK playfully bantered with the press, I found myself unwittingly imitating his Boston accent. Eventually I could impersonate all three Kennedy brothers. Four decades later, in 2004, Santa Monica City Council candidate Bobby Shriver (JFK’s nephew) left me a voicemail. In returning his call, fortunately I did not to do my Kennedy impression.
As his sister Pat lived in Santa Monica with her husband, actor Peter Lawford, Kennedy often visited here. To see his remarkable charisma go to YouTube and type “President Kennedy takes a swim.” It’s an absolutely riveting one-minute video.
On that Aug. 19, 1962 day, L.A. Times photographer Bill Beebe was covering Kennedy’s visit to Santa Monica. When JFK spontaneously took off his shirt and dove into the water, Beebe, in a suit and tie, followed.
Beebe went into the water to above his knees just to get the photo. And then he almost lost the shots by inadvertently opening the camera while he was still wet. Though the classic image didn’t win a Pulitzer, it did win “Photo of the Year” in many competitions.
As it happens, my late mother met JFK and his brothers at the Democratic Convention in 1960. It was staged in Los Angeles at the Sports Arena and my mother, who was an officer in the California Democratic Council, was in charge of the seating.
At the convention she met just about every important dignitary, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson and LBJ. (Just turned 16, I attended and was fairly awestruck.)
After JFK won the nomination there was a party to celebrate at the Lawford’s beachfront house. (Once owned by Louis B. Mayer.) And my mother was among the hundreds who were invited. Such a Kennedy fan, I stayed up late until she got home.
When she arrived home, I eagerly grilled my exhausted mother for details from the party. However briefly, did she get to talk to JFK? Knowing my admiration for him, she reluctantly confessed that JFK had disappeared from the party and the Secret Service, climbing a fence, to rendezvous with — Marilyn Monroe!
Like a poor man’s Biff in “Death of a Salesman,” I was mortified. Actually, I refused to believe it. “Mother, he’s only married to Jackie!” (Who me, naïve?)
Under my breath (and obviously my father wasn’t within earshot) I compared my mother to gossip columnist “Hedda Hopper.” Ouch. Decades later, when JFK’s affair with Monroe was fairly well documented, I apologized, though fortunately my mother hadn’t heard me in the first place.
Fifty years have passed, but the debate still rages about who murdered JFK. At the risk of receiving e-mails labeling me a “conspiracy nut” or a “Commie” (which happens), how, after defecting to the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, did Oswald waltz back into the U.S. and not be constantly tailed like he was in Russia?
But the files are sealed until 2025. President Johnson justified it as “sparing the Kennedy family.” But Jackie died nearly 20 years ago. As for “national security,” the Cold War ended in 1991.
The mayor of Dallas has called for cities nationwide to ring church bells at 12:30 p.m. CST to commemorate the moment of JFK’s assassination. A better idea, and perhaps to finally heal from the nightmare of that day, would be to unseal the files. While I can think of lots of bad ones, I can’t think of any good reason for the files to remain sealed. Can you?
Then again, I’m admittedly biased. It might have something to with forever revering one’s boyhood hero. So I’ll close in the spirit of the 1770s Irish folk song, “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963) R.I.P.

To see JFK’s swim go to:  Jack can be reached at, or via e-mail at
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Saturday, 2 November 2013

In Remembrance on the Death of JFK – President Kennedy

President Kennedy was assassinated on Friday November 22 at 12:30 pm – 50 years ago. I was 15.  I heard about the shocking news the following day on Saturday morning.  I was walking to school, when I met my friend and she told me about it – (Saturday in Iran is a school day)  But my friend Ron Vazzano has a more vivid recollection from that day.  Here is his story.

So where were we on that day? Almost three-quarters of us were not yet born. And when you weed out kids who were ten years or younger back then, about one in seven Americans now living, presumably remembers with some degree of vividness, that day and the theater of events that would unfold over that long weekend. We would sit transfixed before our sets—first time ever for “24/7-news” type coverage—for hours on end, culminating in the funeral that Monday. “Regular programming” in a realm of three TV networks, wouldn’t resume until Tuesday.

I was a freshman at Manhattan College (two years behind Rudy Giuliani) when first reports began to spread on campus, that Kennedy and Vice President Johnson had been shot. There were no readily accessible TV’s in the vicinity, and so we relied on an ear here and there, glued to a transistor radio, catching unclear or incorrect messages (Johnson of course was not shot) which were relayed to those of us clustered in the quadrangle as if in a third world village awaiting word. These were what I have just referred to as modern times?

Why was JFK in Dallas anyway? I didn’t know. Nor was I aware back then, of the animosity that had been brewing in Texas over his pending visit. My agenda that Friday included placing bets in the cafeteria at lunch for that weekend’s football games on “the ticket,” a small time bookie sheet distributed by a classmate to a dedicated clientele. And while Kennedy was the cat’s pajamas at this all male Catholic college, I certainly wasn’t following his doings as closely as the point spreads that November. The high drama of his presidency had taken place with the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of the previous year. In comparison, this autumn was benign.

But it was now time to go to the next class. And being the dutiful students we were, we went, though as if sleepwalking through a bad dream. We were still unsure as to whether Kennedy was alive or dead as we entered that room. What happened then, is something I tried to capture in a poem I wrote thirty-five years after the fact. Predominantly in tercets and rhyme, it mimics a classic poetic construct that we had been reading as part of the syllabus for that course.

II. Greek and Latin Lit: 101

Upon entering the room, you simply said
in a manner of fact, “Yes it’s true. He’s dead.”
      And proceeded to go on with that Friday’s class.

That part where Medea serves up the last
of her children chopped up on a plate
      for Jason, his ravishing appetite to sate.

And unsuspectingly he does.
And we knew just how vile a meal that was
      on this day when the classics were undermined

by Dallas: A Tragedy for Modern Time.
Our time. And you took it away;
      the right to succumb to grief kept it at bay.

You venomous, vainglorious man.
You served up Medea at a moment when
      butchered progeny was the last thing we needed.

With a smirk you watched as we sat defeated.
Was some point proved? Did we pass our test?
      I’ve wondered why we stayed bound to our desks.

Too civilized I suppose, to stomp out of the room.
We should have sent you right to your doom;
      trampled underfoot and dragged across campus

as Achilles, passionate warrior that he was,
had done with the carcass of Hector.
      And now each time at that vector,

that November day crossing of another year,
I taste the irony in your name Mr. Lear.
      And can only wish you an afterlife fixed

to a barge floating down the river Styx
winding its way through the sewers of Dallas
      encircling the sins of fraud and malice.

And each time in passing pray you are sprayed
with the brains that flew from that motorcade.
      In response to my whereabouts that day, I tell
      how you taught us, you bastard, the classics so well.

                                                               —Ron Vazzano