When I was a little boy growing up down in Georgia back in the early 1960’s, the death of John F. Kennedy was still a very recent thing. The impact of that one event upon the psyche of an entire generation of Americans is hard to describe. It can perhaps best be compared to how their parents felt back on December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed; or else to how their children felt when the events of September 11, 2001 later unfolded.
In any event, I remember one particular gift I received at Christmas time. After more than forty years, that gift has long since vanished. To this day, I have no idea where it wound up. And even if I still possessed it, I’m sure it would hold far more value sentimentally than monetarily.
It was a cardboard placard designed to hold both a Lincoln Penny and a Kennedy Half Dollar. It was titled “INCREDIBLE FACTS ABOUT JOHN F. KENNEDY – ABRAHAM LINCOLN”. As the name suggested, it then listed around a dozen and a half strange parallels between these two U. S. Presidents and their respective assassins.
I managed to find a picture of it on the internet and have posted it here.
Author Bill O'Reilly points out several such irrefutable parallels between these two men that are simply amazing:
1. Lincoln was first elected in 1860, Kennedy in 1960.
2. Both were assassinated on a Friday, in the presence of their wives.
3. Their successors were both southerners named Johnson who had served in the Senate.
4. Andrew Johnson was born in 1808, Lyndon Johnson in 1908.
5. Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846, while Kennedy was elected to the House in 1946.
6. Both men suffered the death of children while in office.
7. The assassin Booth shot inside a theater and fled into a storage facility, while the assassin Oswald shot from a storage facility and fled into a theater.*
Alas! It appears that sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction!
While the similarities between these two men and their respective deaths are debated, there is one thing that I can affirm with certainty: each of these men was, in his respective generation, a capable and effective leader.
True, each one was cut down in the prime of life. But, each also died with the satisfaction that he had served the single greatest country in the history of the world and that he had served it well.
Specifically, each knew he had done his best to see that country through an extremely trying time – for one, that was the disastrous and costly United States Civil War; and for the other, that was the very brink of World War Three as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
And these men are not alone. No doubt, every President the United States has ever had has each faced untold numbers of crises and decisions - ones that were unknown to the world at large; but that, having been made, went on to shape the future and the destiny of the world as we know it today. Few of us can even begin to appreciate the strain of such a burden!
So, consider this a hardy “thank you” to all the men who have ever served this great country in the capacity as Chief Executive. At the very least, the vast majority of them deserve this one day out of the year as a time of recognition for a job, by and large, well done.
FOR FURTHER READING:
*Actually, Bill O’Reilly has recently published two books of relevance here: Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy. Each of these has sold well over two million copies and spent considerable time atop the New York Times bestsellers list (http://www.billoreilly.com/b/Bill-Dominates-NYT-Bestseller-List/59791646251
They are both available at booksellers nationwide.
For a discussion of the validity of many of the supposed similarities of these two Presidents, see also:
And lastly, my picture source is: http://disneycollectorsclub.com/kennedy-lincoln-facts.