Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Like him or loathe him, JFK touched us all

ON September 28, 1963, I saw, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, President John F Kennedy. At that moment, he became a hero of mine.

He only spoke for 17 minutes and, at the time, I didn't know what he was talking about. But the crowd went crazy. My mother and my friends' mothers were calling out, "Mr President! Mr President!" It was pandemonium.

One of the saddest days of my life was the day that JFK was killed – November 22, 1963. I remember the exact moment.

I went to school at one of only two private Catholic schools in Las Vegas. A kid named Kenny, who was a bit of a joker, burst into the room and yelled to the nun that someone had shot the president.

The nun immediately slapped Kenny across the face and yelled at him for saying what he said. Kenny told the Sister he wasn't lying and then she began to cry.

About 30 seconds later, Fr Baldus came over the loudspeaker and told everyone to go to the church across the street to pray for the president. While we were on our knees praying, Fr Baldus said that the president had died.

Later, at home with my parents, we sat in front of TV. I could understand my mother being affected, but not my father. My mother was a great supporter of JFK and my father disliked him.

I asked my father why he was crying. He told me: "Because he was one of us." I'll never forget that day.

KEVIN DEVITTE

By email

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