Saturday, February 8, 2014

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

Truthfully? In 5th Grade I was not paying attention to pop music. Oh, sure, the radio was a wonderful source of favorite childhood songs in the early 60s: “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul & Mary; “Tie Me Kangaroo Down” by Rolf Harris; “The Clapping Song” by Shirley Ellis (“3-6-9, the goose drank wine…”). I did not really know who Elvis Presley was because he had been absent from the charts since his Army days, but I did love “Rag Doll” by the Four Seasons.

In 4th Grade, we all sang along enthusiastically with the Beach Boys on their monster hit, “Surfin’ USA,” even as we dodged neighborhood fights when bullies asked the infamous question, “Are you a surfer or a hodad?” But in January 1964 I was concentrating on getting good grades and still grieving with the rest of America over the assassination of President John F. Kennedy just two months earlier.

So I was surprised by the breathless excitement of my classmates on the first week of February. “What do you think of the Beatles?” “Have you heard ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ yet?” “Are you gonna watch the Beatles on Ed Sullivan this Sunday night?”

Huh? What are the Beatles? What the heck are you talking about?

On that Monday the Beatles were the only thing my friends were talking about. That night my next-door neighbors, Melissa and Melinda, were blasting “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” from their family radio. My younger sister Desi was equally enthralled. At first, I dismissed the group and their music as just a trendy teen girl thing, but the music caught my ear as the Los Angeles stations played Beatles songs over and over. I could not deny there was something exciting and new about their sound.

On Tuesday, I began to pay closer attention to conversations about the Beatles. On Wednesday, having had two days of listening to their music, I began to weigh in, not wishing to be seen as a straggler. On Thursday, I admitted, perhaps reluctantly, that I would be watching Sullivan on Sunday. On Friday, my friends and I were all looking forward to the show.

Please understand that I had still not yet seen a photo of the Beatles. There was no Internet and, as the eldest in my family, I had no older teens in my circle from which to wean information. So, although I had an earful of the group’s music during the past week, I was unprepared for their visual impact.

 My family already watched Ed Sullivan every Sunday night, so there was no change of plans or fighting over what show to pick. At the time, Sullivan was appointment television in America, THE showcase for new and established talent in all entertainment fields. Dour old Ed wasted no time in introducing the act that everyone in the country had been talking about.

“Ladies and gentlemen . . . the Beatles!”

What was that unearthly noise? Hundreds of teenage girls screaming at the top of their lungs! Having had no previous experience of this teen idol thing with Sinatra and Presley, I was taken aback by the sound and images of teen girls throwing themselves in wild abandon at the feet of these four young men.

They were certainly dressed presentably: four guys in dark suits, white shirts and thin ties, three in front on guitar, and one guy on drums behind them. But their hair! What was wrong with their hair? It wasn’t crew cuts or flat tops, like my classmates and I were wearing. And it wasn’t the greased pompadours that I had seen on some early-60s rock’n’roll groups. The band's hair was not short but also not girlishly long. The word “androgynous” had not yet entered the popular lexicon but, looking back, it would seem to fit the Beatles’ hairdo to a T. And they combed their hair forward in bangs. Guys don’t do that, do they?

But forget their looks! I was finally seeing a live performance of the songs I had heard on the radio all week. The guitarists did not perform in the unison choreography that I had seen by groups on American Bandstand. From left to right, Paul, George and John were all bobbing and swaying independently of each other, shaking their mop tops, and occasionally coming together at the microphones for harmonies. And behind them, Ringo was a wild man on the drums, shaking his head and banging away on his toms and cymbals with rowdy abandon, yet somehow maintaining the steady beat that defined the group’s name.

“All My Loving.” “Till There Was You.” “She Loves You.” “I Saw her Standing There.” “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” These songs were unlike anything I had ever heard before from any other pop group. Coupled with the loud adulation of their teen-girl audience, the overarching effect was one of unbridled joy and enthusiasm.

Yeah, yeah yeah!

I was particularly drawn to that left-handed singer with the violin-shaped guitar. At the time, I didn’t know a bass from a six-string guitar but Paul McCartney’s energy and melodic voice had a profound impact on me. I was only playing harmonica and flute in school band but after seeing the Beatles, especially Paul, I made a fateful decision: I want to learn guitar! I want to do THAT for a living!

But another powerful force was also pulling at me in 1964. This was the year that the Roman Catholic Church promulgated the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. I was already a “church kid,” actively engaged in the Latin Mass at my parish, but now there was incredible excitement over the prospect of the new English Mass that would be celebrated on the upcoming First Sunday of Advent. The Church was wooing me in one direction even as the Beatles were yanking me in another. Dichotomy? Contradiction? I didn’t even know what those words meant when I was 10 years old. But somehow, I would eventually bring those opposite forces together – secular and sacred -- in my life’s work.

And you know that can’t be bad.

Walter Cronkite Remembers . . .

Next Blog - The Perfect Storm: How the Beatles Conquered America

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 Christmas Letter to Family and Friends

Dear Family and Friends,

Welcome to my blogsite, where you’ll find occasional ruminations from my uniquely focused mind. 2013 was an incredible year! I now write a monthly column for Ministry and Liturgy magazine. I’m also in the beginning stages of writing the sequel to my book, Keep the Fire Burning: The Folk Mass Revolution.

Travel was a highlight of 2013. I do a lot of workshops around the country to promote my music and writing. This year I did events in Buffalo, NY; Wichita, KS; Carlisle, PA; Richmond, VA; Sacramento, CA; and Glendale, CA. But the most memorable trips were to Ghana, Africa in June, and to Turkey and Rome in October. Here are links to my series of blogs on each trip:

A music ministry journey with fellow spiritandsong composers, sponsored by Catholic Relief Services and OCP

A joyful faith pilgrimage where my friend, Fr. Paul Wicker served as chaplain and I served as musician

Other highlights of the year included:

Pope Francis
This year the Catholic church rejoiced in a new pope who has quickly charmed the world with his simplicity and dedication to serving the poor and forgotten. He reminds me so much of Pope John XXIII, who also inspired hope and optimism back in the 1960s. I had the privilege of attending a General Audience with Pope Francis when I was at the Vatican in October. Truly one of the highlights of my life!

A terrific spring musical put on by the junior high teens in my parish school, Holy Trinity in Beaverton

Music Ministry: Holy Trinity and St. Mary Magdalene
This year I find myself involved in music ministry at TWO parishes. Holy Trinity is my home parish and I began there in 2005. We have several great music groups. Here is a photo of our 9:30 Choir that rehearses on Wednesday nights.

At Holy Trinity I'm also part of an informal band called the B-Side, made up of fellow folk music enthusiasts. We do parish events and occasional Portland gigs in support of my book on the Folk Mass.

My "second" parish is St. Mary Magdalene in Portland. The pastor is Fr. Mike Biewend, an old college friend who has been trying to snag me to do music at his parish for many years. I help out at Saturday Vigil Mass and at the weekly school Mass on Thursdays, so it doesn’t really clash with my Sunday ministry at Holy Trinity.

Portland Filipino Catholic Community Choir
Another great joy is my involvement with the choir of the Filipino Catholic Community of Portland and SW Washington. We sing at special liturgies throughout the year, including the Feast of San Lorenzo Ruiz and the Simbang Gabi Christmas Novena. The music is lively and Spirit-filled, and I have a deeper appreciation of my cultural roots through my friendships in this vibrant community.

Mom’s 80th Birthday
My family celebrated together with mom in Los Angeles in June.

Seattle Canedos
My brother Keith settled in Seattle back in the late 1970s. His oldest daughter Micaela is now doing graduate studies at the renowned Loyola Marymount School of Film and TV in Los Angeles. Youngest daughter Kelsey is in 10th grade of high school in the Seattle area. I try to visit them during the summer and for sure during Thanksgiving.

My own Landmark Birthday
Took time out in July to celebrate with friends in San Francisco, my favorite city in the world!

Through all these adventures I am grateful especially for the love and friendship that we share. Whatever your faith tradition, may the blessings of the Christmas season remain with you throughout the New Year!

Peace, joy, love!

My cat Neo at our aluminum tree

Friday, November 29, 2013

John-John's Salute: Promise Unfulfilled

I watched President Kennedy's funeral on Monday, the viewing as somber in 2013 as it surely was 50 years ago. November 25, 1963 was a national day of mourning — no work, no school.  I played tag with grade school friends and roller skated the neighborhood as the events unfolded in Washington. I also remember wishing I could see the funeral but our family TV was broken. Thanks to this week's retro coverage on, I finally did.

The Kennedy funeral was a uniquely American blend of pageantry and simplicity. We're talking about the President of the United States, so a certain protocol and decorum were required. And yet, this was not the funeral of a king or emperor, with the pomp and circumstance of royalty. The President is elected from the people and for the people. In life and in death, he is one of us, and we have a right, no, an obligation to honor our President when he departs from this world. Still, there was cruel irony in the fact that it was John Kennedy's accessibility that got him killed.

An estimated 250,000 people filed past President Kennedy's casket as he lied in state under the Capitol Rotunda. More than 300,000 lined the streets of Washington as the funeral procession made its way around the city. 93 percent of America saw the funeral of television, the largest viewing audience ever recorded to that point.

There is something to be said about how the time between death and funeral is so important to a grieving family. From personal experience, I know the planning, the creative remembering, and the preparations keep the family busy and focused during a very difficult time. Mrs. Kennedy is to be commended for putting together, in a stunningly brief time, a funeral that went a long way in helping America to heal.

There are elements about the funeral that are forever seared into the collective memory of the Boomer generation: the simple and stark Rotunda service, as Mrs. Kennedy and daughter Carolyn knelt and kissed the flag-draped casket while soldiers stood at attention and wept; the clop-clop of the six white horses as they led the wheeled caisson that bore the casket while the military color guard followed, bearing the flags of the United States and the Presidential seal; feisty Black Jack, the riderless horse modeled after a similar equine who marched in Abraham Lincoln's funeral; the mournful tunes of the military bands and bagpipe brigades, whose drummers twirled their mallets with impressive precision. And then there was that funeral beat the drummers played to fill out the silence between band numbers. It echoed hauntingly throughout the streets of Washington:

Brrrrr rum-pum-pum.
Brrrrr rum-pum-pum.
Brrrrr rum-pum-puddy-bum. . .

I was fascinated to see how President Kennedy's funeral liturgy was conducted in 1963, exactly one year before Mass in English was promulgated in the United States under the mandate of the Second Vatican Council. The Latin Mass was rarely televised in the early Sixties, and there it was in all its glory. The majority of dignitaries packed into St. Matthew's Cathedral were probably not Catholic and were surely puzzled by a liturgy they could not understand. But for Catholics in the cathedral and watching on television, the Mass was a source of solace and consolation.

Mrs. Kennedy asked family friend Richard Cardinal Cushing to celebrate a Low Requiem Mass instead of the customary High Mass celebrated in parishes during a funeral. She was probably concerned that the length of a High Mass, where just about everything is sung in proper sequence, might be too much for the non-Catholics. There was usually no singing at a Low Mass but in those pre-Council days music could be sung "to foster the devotion of the faithful" throughout the liturgy. Interestingly, there was no requirement at Low Mass to match the music to the ritual action.

For example, at the Kennedy Funeral Mass, a soloist sang Schubert's "Ave Maria" during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the pre-Council version of today's Penitential Act. The Schubert composition was so long that it spilled over into the Epistle, which was read quietly by the cardinal in Latin and not proclaimed as readings are today. "Dies Irae," the Gregorian chant funeral masterpiece, was sung during the Gospel!

English was heard only twice at the President's funeral Mass: during a planned post-Communion reflection by Auxiliary Bishop Philip M. Hannan in which he quoted Kennedy's Inaugural Address; and during the rite of Final Commendation, when Cardinal Cushing spontaneously departed from the official Latin text and proclaimed the words in English, his voice shaking with emotion.

"May the angels, dear Jack, lead you into Paradise. May the martyrs receive you at your coming. May the Spirit of God embrace you, and mayest thou, with all those who made the supreme sacrifice of dying for others, receive eternal rest and peace. Amen."

Throughout that weekend of shock and heartache, Mrs. Kennedy was a model of composure. Surely, of all people, she deserved to be beside herself in grief. She cradled her husband's bloody head on her lap, after all. Yet, there she was on national television, quietly leading a grieving nation with poise and dignity.

Perhaps the most iconic image of the weekend was the President's son, little John-John, whose 3rd birthday was that very funeral day. At the conclusion of the liturgy, as the family and the funeral cortege departed from the cathedral, the worldwide audience was deeply moved by a touching and unforgettable moment. Author William Manchester captured it well in his 1967 book, The Death of a President.

It lasted but an instant. The momentum of the pageant had caught them up again, and even as Mrs. Kennedy put John to her left, in front of the Attorney General, the band struck up "Hail to the Chief." This was the last time it would be played for President Kennedy. Soldiers snapped from parade rest to present arms. Officers, policemen, and the lead rider of the matched grays saluted. The clergy folded hands; laymen straightened. Jacqueline Kennedy, remembering how the boy loved to play soldiers with his father, leaned over and said, "John, you can salute Daddy now and say good-bye to him."

The small right hand rose stiffly. Behind him Robert Kennedy's face crinkled in pain, and Bishop Hannan, glancing across the street, saw the spectators there crumple as though struck. Of all Monday's images, nothing approached the force of John's salute. Mrs. Kennedy, standing erect, missed it, and when she was shown the photographs afterward she was astounded. She had expected an unimpressive gesture; in the past his saluting had been both comic and, in her words, "sort of droopy."

But not now. Somehow the mood and meaning of the day had reached the President's son. His elbow was cocked at precisely the right angle, his hand was touching his shock of hair, his left arm was rigidly at his side, his shoulders were squared and his chin in. His bearing was militant, and to see it in a three-year-old, with his bare legs stiff below his short coat, his knees dimpled and his blunt red shoes side by side — to hear the slow swell of the music, and recall how the President had idolized him — was almost insupportable. Cardinal Cushing looked down on the small face. He saw the shadow of sadness crossing it and felt a burning sensation in his chest. Eight months later he could barely speak of it. "Oh, God," he whispered hoarsely, "I almost died."
Didn't we all?

John-John's iconic salute to his slain father. Cardinal Cushing is at far right, wearing biretta.

President Kennedy did not have the time to carve out a meaningful list of accomplishments during his all-too-brief tenure in office. And yet, his sudden unexpected death still haunts and defines my generation. Perhaps his legacy is one of promise unfulfilled. It would be up to our generation to keep Kennedy's fire burning, despite the sad repetition of death that would later visit upon his brother Bobby and even his own son John, Jr. If nothing else, President Kennedy inspired hope, and hope will never die.

"The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans . . . and the glow from that fire can truly light the world . . ."

— Inaugural Address of President John F. Kennedy

Saturday, November 23, 2013


As mentioned in an earlier blog, my family's television set was broken on that unforgettable weekend of November 22, 1963. All we could do was tune in to the radio to stay on top of the continuing coverage of the assassination. I remember listening with my father to XTRA, the Los Angeles all-news station, just as Air Force One landed at Andrews Air Force Base with the casket of the slain President. The Texas drawl of Lyndon Johnson was a striking change from the Boston brogue we had become accustomed to in the Kennedy years. The new President's words were reassuring but I could definitely hear the gravitas, even through my 10-year-old ears.

"I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask your help. . . and God's."

My family subscribed to the Herald-Examiner, LA's evening newspaper, and we opened it with eager expectation. On the front page was the now famous photo of a smiling President Kennedy and his beautiful wife Jackie, waving to the crowds from their limousine just moments before the cruel shots rang out. I read every word in the front-page story and read them again as a sickening feeling came over me. Since I admired Kennedy so much, perhaps it was just as well that our TV was broken. The continuing coverage would have only depressed me.

And it did, 50 years later. CBS News is showing the entire four-day coverage on their website, from assassination to funeral. Here was my chance to finally see what I missed as a child.

I meant to do some writing and other work as I watched but those plans quickly went out the window. It was just too absorbing.  TV news was raw and the technology still primitive in 1963, but it was there. The killing of Kennedy was the first national tragedy fully covered by television. The scrambling of the reporters for the latest updates, the grainy black-and-white images, the garbled sound and, most poignantly, Walter Cronkite's choked emotion as he announced the official news of the President's death — it was all quite riveting. I finally understood how the country came together as one on that fateful weekend. And I was beside myself in grief all over again, fifty years later.

Perhaps this was not such a good idea. After all, I live alone, with no one to share this experience with me. I found myself in tears as I watched Jackie's quiet composure, or as senators, congressmen and people on the street poured out their grief. I tried to connect with friends via email, texting and Facebook. But in the end, I was alone with my sorrow and heartbreak. A good man died fifty years ago, and I just relived that horrible day all over again.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

John F. Kennedy: American President (Catholic)

It is difficult for my younger friends to understand this, but there once was a very deep-seated anti-Catholic sentiment in the United States that can be traced back to the colonial era. Certainly, the natural animosity between Protestants and Catholics was carried over from Europe, an enmity born not only from religious differences but also from related political and class struggles. This was exacerbated by rulers who imposed one religion over the other, as King Henry VIII did in 1541 when he decreed the Church of England as the state religion of Ireland. The ensuing oppression and resistance festered over centuries. Mutual ill will became ingrained in succeeding generations.

The New World offered an appealing escape from religious oppression, a chance for a fresh start to rebuild a faith-based community unfettered by prejudice and misunderstanding. But as the colonial population mushroomed, those prejudices re-emerged. Such colonies as Virginia, Massachusetts and Rhode Island enacted legislation that restricted Catholic settlers or outlawed the practice of the Catholic faith. Edicts of toleration were eventually decreed during the Revolutionary period as the thirteen original colonies tried to find common ground together as the new United States of America.

But old prejudices died hard. Anti-Catholicism reached its peak in the nineteenth century as Protestant leaders became alarmed by a significant influx of Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Germany. The parochial school system was developed as a way to foster Catholic and ethnic identity, even as it insulated Catholic youth from the influence of Protestant teachers and non-Catholic students. Catholic schools were eyed with suspicion by Protestant authorities who fought hard to strip public funding from these sectarian institutions.

The fear that “Catholics take orders from the pope” caused Protestants to question Catholics’ allegiance to the United States. This fear was especially evident during the presidential campaign of 1928 when Al Smith, a Catholic, became the Democratic Party’s candidate against Herbert Hoover, a Republican Quaker. Anti-Catholic rhetoric, enflamed by Ku Klux Klan involvement, played a large part in Smith’s defeat.

By 1960, Catholics had gained substantial ground in American society. Formerly an immigrant working class, Catholics had now reached the upper echelons of leadership in business, the military and politics, with Catholic CEOs, colonels, Congressmen and Senators. There remained one more barrier to break: a Catholic President. And when John Kennedy became the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, the old anti-Catholic prejudice once again raised its ugly head.

Americans had become more religiously tolerant since Al Smith’s 1928 campaign but Kennedy’s Catholicism still raised lingering doubts. Against the advice of his campaign managers, Kennedy took the issue head on by speaking to a group of Protestant ministers at a conference for the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12, 1960. Here is a partial video of Kennedy’s landmark speech:

Click here for the complete text of Kennedy's speech.

John Kennedy won against Richard Nixon with one of the narrowest margins of victory in the history of presidential elections (until George W. Bush’s victory in 2000). The Catholic vote may not have tipped the election in Kennedy’s favor but clearly the anti-Catholic vote was no longer a factor. Historians consider Kennedy’s election as a breakthrough that helped to thaw the icy relations between Protestants and Catholics in America.

President Kennedy visits Pope Paul VI at the Vatican, July 2, 1963.

Of course, as a child, history and politics were over my head. All I knew was that President Kennedy was a Catholic. I was just beginning to discover my own faith in a Church that continued to treat me well throughout my childhood. The President and I shared the same faith. That made me quite proud, and it made my sorrow at his murder all the more profound.

Friday, November 15, 2013

President Kennedy and Superman

Times have changed. The President of the United States is now the most vilified man in America, as evidenced by the way both Barack Obama and George W. Bush have been dragged across the mud by their political opponents. Seriously, why would anybody even want the job? But I digress.

It wasn’t that way in the early 1960s. President John F. Kennedy was respected not only by his own party but also by those who disagreed with his politics. The press even looked the other way when rumors circulated about Kennedy’s alleged affairs with other women, or about his alarming dependence on drugs and painkillers that he needed for his serious health problems. Nowadays, such issues would be fodder for the most salacious tabloid news. The Kennedy administration may have been the last to be treated deferentially by a media that had not yet grown its skeptical Watergate wings.

This aura of presidential respect extended even to children’s literature. President Kennedy made frequent appearances in the pages of Superman comic books. He would sometimes assign special missions to both Superman and his cousin Supergirl.

As time went on, Kennedy was portrayed as a personal friend of the Man of Steel, who entrusted the Chief Executive with the knowledge of his secret identity. Yes, President Kennedy knew that Clark Kent was Superman!

President Kennedy discusses his Campaign on Physical Fitness with Superman.

On one occasion, the President even disguised himself as Clark Kent so that Superman could appear on live TV with his alter ego! This foiled Lois Lane and Lana Lang, who were always trying to prove that Clark was Superman.

But don’t take MY word for it. Here is an excellent article that outlines the President’s many appearances in the pages of DC Comics:

Superman’s Pal, President Kennedy

The problem of this blurring of comic book fiction and reality is obvious. With all the power at Superman’s command, wouldn’t a President ask him to do more than just promote a physical fitness program for children? If there really were a Superman, chances are Kennedy would have asked him to round up the nuclear missiles in Cuba and blow the Soviet ships clear back across the Atlantic with his super-breath. But again, I digress.

As an avid comic book fan, I was delighted to read that my favorite superhero and my favorite President were good friends. Children of the early Sixties took solace in the notion that between Superman and President Kennedy, all was well and safe in our world. Alas, that fanciful idea was brutally shattered on November 22, 1963.

Next Blog: The Catholic President

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cuban Missile Crisis


If our teacher said this word, we were to immediately get under our desks, crouch down on our knees, lower our heads, and cover the back of our necks with our hands. Every generation has school fire drills but in the early 1960s we also had “drop drills.” Teachers in Los Angeles were instructed to say “Drop!” at any unexpected moment and students were obliged to respond accordingly.

Looking back now, this seems ludicrous — as if a school desk would adequately shelter a child from the devastation of a nuclear blast. But it made us feel better that there might be a possibility of survival in this scary Cold War.

Make no mistake. The constant use of the word “war” in Cold War was traumatic for a grade school student of the Sixties. Every now and then, we would walk by a newspaper rack and see a front-page photo of an atomic bomb test, it’s mushroom cloud searing into our youthful imaginations. In Southern California, on the first Friday of every month, the Civil Defense sirens did a 10:00am test, their mournful wails piercing our young hearts like a dagger.

Scary, isn't it?

So when President Kennedy made a television appearance on the evening of October 22, 1962 to discuss “matters of national urgency,” Americans stopped what they were doing and paid attention.

I have a distinct memory of watching Kennedy’s announcement on TV with my father. The President’s Boston-nuanced tone was grim. There was a lot of jargon that went over my 4th grade head, and I asked my dad what was happening. He explained that the Russians had nuclear missiles in Cuba and, if they were launched, the United States would do the same against the Soviet Union.


The next day at Stoner Avenue School, my 4th grade teacher pulled down a map of the United States. She pointed to Cuba and then to the Pacific Northwest. She said every place in America could be potentially hit by a Russian missile except Seattle. I realize now that she was trying to keep us informed but back then we kids were terrified by the possibility that a nuclear missile could rain down on Southern California at any time.

Later that day, the school assistant custodian came into our classroom to check the venetian blinds.  She pulled them up, then down, then loudly closed them shut, causing several kids to yelp. That’s how on-edge we were. It didn’t help that our teacher kept the blinds closed for the rest of the day — as if those little plastic slats would protect us from a nuclear blast.

Those fateful Thirteen Days of October unfolded at a torturous snail’s pace. I was scared out of my wits because I thought we might die at any moment. That was a frightening thought for a 9-year-old.

Our teacher Mrs. Holzer kept assuring us that President Kennedy would see the country through this crisis safely. The mere mention of the President’s name was a soothing balm. We kids had a deep respect for John Kennedy. He was our country’s leader. We trusted him.

The Cuban Missile Crisis has been well documented in books, essays and popular movies. President Kennedy showed admirable restraint against the gung-ho proposals of his hawkish military advisors. If not for Kennedy’s cautious coolness, I firmly believe we would not be here today. We were THAT close! Nuclear Armageddon might have been unleashed and the world destroyed. But that was not what Kennedy or Khrushchev wanted. Thank God!

As children, we heard that President Kennedy saved the country and the world from annihilation. That’s what the adults in our life told us. Kennedy was our hero. Can you blame my generation for our outpouring of grief on the day that he died?

Next blog: President Kennedy and Superman