Just One Day

On the twenty-second day of November, in the year of Our Lady nineteen hundred and sixty-three, my father was twelve years old. My mother was less than a month from her ninth birthday. I would not be born for twenty-two years, one month and seventeen days. Yet the magnitude of a single event is so terrific that it can be felt fifty years later, even for someone who has only known that moment as an echo in time.

I am only twenty-seven. I do not know anything but one president passing the office peacefully to the next–save for Bill Clinton, of course. I do not know the horror that someone born in 1936 must have felt, or anyone old enough to truly understand. I do not know the weight of sitting by the television, the radio, whatever…hearing some tearful announcer telling me that the president has been shot while touring Dallas and the doctors could not save him. I do not know the fury others must have felt when they learned that the killer could not be brought to justice, because the Lords of Karma had already taken the matter in hand.

Perhaps some would tell me that what I know is knowledge enough. Nearly three thousand people died on that fateful day in September. Countless others have died since, whether from suicide, accident, natural causes or even health issues contracted from digging through the rubble. But I have to ask myself…is that really the same?

How can one ever compare the assassination of a president to the horrors of the World Trade Center, especially when the president was so loved and the course of history could have been changed by his continued life? Is it even fair to compare such things?

I may be astonished by the true gravity of the situation, but I may have also found the unanswerable question.

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