John Fitzgerald Kennedy May 29 1917 – November 22 1963
It’s hard to imagine JFK as an old man, sitting on a porch in his rocking chair, greeting well wishers on his birthday because he died young, and as Bob Dylan put it, will remain forever young.
Most great men are honored on their birthday, especially American presidents, but when it comes to President Kennedy, we only remember him on November 22nd, the day he died, the day he was murdered in cold blood, the day he was unceremoniously shot in the head while riding down a Dallas, Texas street at half-past high noon.
It is November 22nd that is burned into our national memory and the unresolved nature of his murder is what nags our conscience, while May 29th is forgotten.
Rather than his death, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy once said that the Kennedy family would prefer President Kennedy be remembered for his vision, his style, his administration and his policies, yet every November 22nd the family is pictured kneeling before the eternal flame at his grave at Arlington National Cemetery, surrounded by other veterans who fought and some died for the principles America stands for – freedom, liberty, democracy and justice, well, forget justice in the case of JFK.
The late John Judge, and it pains me to write that preface, is now best known as the former director of COPA who continued Penn Jones’ tradition of holding a moment of silence at Dealey Plaza at half-past noon every November 22nd, until the City of Dallas prevented him and the public from doing that on the 50th anniversary.
More recently, like a modern day Tom Paine, John Judge began to hand out literature on the murder of MLK on the anniversary of his assassination at his statue on the Washington Mall, and hopefully some people will continue doing that some day.
About fifteen years ago, in response to the Kennedy family’s request that JFK be honored for his true legacy rather than his death, John Judge and a few friends, including me, met at the JFK Monument at American University at 12 noon on June 10th, the anniversary of his landmark “Peace Speech.”
One year we held a min-conference, led by John Newman and John Judge and a few other speakers, with about two dozen participants, some of whom came as far away as London and stayed overnight in the dorm, as school was out.
Some years there were only a few of us, a half-dozen or so, each taking turns saying something about JFK or reading portions of his speeches. The event, if that’s what you can call it, lasts about a half hour or so and then we all go to lunch somewhere nearby and continue the discussion. Even on the 50th anniversary, it was John Judge and COPA members who recognized the date, as the official university affair was held on a different day.
And now, as another May 29th passes with nary a mention of JFK, some people are trying to call attention, not only to JFK’s birthday and his legacy, but the fact that there are still thousands of secret government records that shroud the truth about his administration and murder, from the Bay of Pigs to Dallas, Andrews and Bethesda, the Pentagon and the CIA.
Some have selected the JFK Center for the Performing Arts as a symbolic place to meet and remember JFK’s legacy and call for the release of the still secret records concerning his murder.
The life of John Judge will be celebrated at a special memorial service at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Saturday, May 31, and those who want to carry on the legacy of John F. Kennedy and John Judge can meet for short while at the JFK Monument at American University at noon on June 10th.
John F. Kennedy’s life, and the life of John Judge, can be best remembered by continuing their work – towards a lasting peace, and an understanding of the secret history of our nation and the world.