My First President
Because what we now celebrate as all Presidents’ Day on a welcomed 3-day weekend was once the celebration of Presidents Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays, many do not ponder beyond those two fine examples of Presidential prestige. For me, however, the “first” president was John F. Kennedy. Probably because I was just entering my teens and opening my awareness to a larger world when he and the peerless Jackie strolled into my young field of vision in that delightful new window on the world, television. Here was a Presidential icon I could hang on my wall. One with the charisma of a Washington or a Lincoln. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” He embodied every image of good government I was sold in Civics class. And then, in the time it took to pull a trigger, he was gone. It was a shock felt around the world, including my small hometown in Arkansas. This stunning picture by Life photojournalist Carl Mydans, really captures that surreal day, November 22, 1963. All I could do was read the newspaper and stare into the continuous broadcasting of grief as I shared in the national shock and suffered my first participation in collective experience as mediated by that strange, hypnotic screen.