If he had lived, President John F. Kennedy would have been 100 years old this year. At Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, his family would be raising a glass in his honor.
But as we all know, he was murdered in Dallas, Texas on this date – November 22nd – in 1963. A true war hero twice over, he risked his life to save his men in World War II, and then, after a radical turn toward peace-making in the last year of his life, he died in his own country at the hands of his domestic enemies as a soldier in a non-violent struggle for peace and reconciliation for all people across the world.
But we can still celebrate, mourn, and offer thanksgiving for his courageous witness. When we gather tomorrow to give thanks, we should remember today – the profound significance of the date – and the absent presence of a man whose death, dark and bloody as it was, is a sign of hope in these dark times. For if John Kennedy had not had the spiritual conscience to secretly carry-on a back channel letter correspondence with Nikita Khrushchev, facilitated by Pope John XXIII, we very well might not be here, having been incinerated in a nuclear holocaust.
Hope? Not because he was assassinated, but why he was assassinated.
While there is much media focus on the release of more of the JFK files, they are beside the point. They were withheld all these years to dribble out the clock on an endless pseudo-debate about who killed President Kennedy. We know who killed him: the national security state, led by the CIA, killed him, not Lee Harvey Oswald. It was a coup d’état purposely conducted in plain sight to send a message that every president since has heeded: Your job is to make war and threaten nuclear annihilation for…