I am the same age as Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. On that terrible day 50 years ago, we were let out of school early to go home and be with our families. I didn't quite grasp it, being all of 6, but I do remember entering the house with my older sister, and seeing both my mother and father in front of the television. Dad being home in the late morning was quite the oddity. Something big must be going on. The fear emanating from the adults in my home and neighborhood set me on edge. There we were, as a nation, teetering on the precipice. Looking back, I'm glad I was only 6 and still cocooned in my innocence.
In this tragedy, I have always identified with Caroline the most. As young girls we looked very similar. We were the same age. My 6 year old self was glued to her image on television and in magazines, participating in the funeral services of her father. Her daddy was gone, never to return. I couldn't imagine what that felt like. My daddy was here, solidly in charge of home and family.
If you lived in the United States, you couldn't help but keep up with the Kennedy family in the years following JFK's assassination. Caroline remained (it seemed so) wholesome, strong and forward-thinking. She was judicious about her public speaking, and always the diplomat. It seems fitting indeed that she is now our nation's ambassador to Japan. I know that these kinds of jobs get awarded to big campaign contributors, but in this case, I am very pleased with her appointment. It will be interesting to watch her work across the Pacific, especially what with the world-wide implications of the Fukushima radiation leaks.
How strange it is, 50 years later, to recall this day. The hard-bound magazine, American Heritage, came out with a book documenting the days and hours leading to his death. Full of color photographs, it is a graphic depiction of the horror, and I referred to it regularly when growing up. The meaning of it all began it sink in as I grew older.
The conspiracy theories, Oswald's CIA and Russian connections, the killing of Oswald, the national frenzy and fear: through it all, I see a quiet little girl in her proper suit, kneeling at her father's coffin, reaching out with her hand to touch him one last time.