But in many ways President Kennedy changed my life, awakening in me an interest in politics and government; in the Athenian ideal of citizenship, on the duty of every person in a democracy to be engaged in service to others; that no one gets a pass.
As I write this, it is 50 years and two hours since I heard five bells ring on the UPI wire, turned around and discovered that John F. Kennedy had been shot.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's death, yet just 10 days ago, Jeanne and I were celebrating with my cousin Caroline Kennedy as she was sworn in as Ambassador to Japan.
Senator Deeds, all hearts are on deck with you. The vibrant photo of Gus playing his banjo on the campaign trail with you will be forever etched in our minds. We honor him and we honor you. We stand with you.
Kennedy's call to action, from his first to his last day as president, was a constant call to citizenship - local, national, and global. It was a call to embrace the promise of American reinvention and renewal.
I was 5-years-old on Friday, November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Even we kids could perceive the paradigm shift that took place as a result of that horrendous event and recall the somber and mournful tone of the next few days.
Both presidents have a severe lack of accomplishments to show for their presidencies, a fierce opposition from the opposing party, and a myth machine that continues to heroize them.
Without a doubt, November 22 was a historical inflection point that happened in my back yard but I never asked so much as one question when the opportunity to do so was at hand with people very near to the actual event.
We'll never know how Kennedy's presidency would have progressed had the events in Dallas not denied him further opportunity to deliver on his promise.
Today's colleges must put the question posed by JFK in front of their students every day: What can you do for your country, for your community, for the world?
As I watch the footage of the grief-stricken people who lined the streets, I can't help but feel a nostalgia for that horrible time because it seems to me that it represents an America more unified than today.
It's worth remembering that musical associations are bound to be some of the first things we think about when JFK comes to mind: Camelot, his friendship with Frank Sinatra, Marilyn's rendition of "Happy Birthday," and the like.
JFK WTF? you say. Well, it's not as crazy as it sounds. Join me in the way-back machine for a thought experiment in JFK alternate history.
Four e-book singles relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy have been published this fall, timed to the 50th anniversary of his murder. All four are exceptional examples of long-form journalism.
For those of us powerfully motivated toward public service by the Kennedy challenge to our idealism, one not heard since then, we choose to believe that he had the potential to become that rare political leader beyond politics, certainly beyond partisanship.
That is the Kennedy I like to think of when everyone asks, "Where were you when you heard JFK was shot." I was at my own birthday party with balloons and a Barbie cake with five glowing candles and presents and games and an understanding that something enormous had shifted in the universe and my happy birthday would never be truly happy again.