Excerpt From CHAPTER 4 ALTERED STATE Page 59

Published November 22, 2016

President Kennedy was a relatively young man. He and his lovely wife, Jacqueline, worked hard to win the respect and admiration of most Americans and others around the world. His run for the nomination and presidency against Richard Nixon was the first political campaign that I had any interest in. The drama of the scion from a New England family was captivating; he was a war hero, married to an elegant, lovely lady. When the subtle bigotry against Catholicism was factored (which made Kennedy an underdog), the stage was set for a nail-biting election.

The leader of the free world and his lovely wife rode in an open limousine; they acknowledged adoring citizens and spectators that lined their journey. Suddenly, the presidential motorcade sped up and left the plaza in confusion and disarray.

“The president has been shot!” the correspondent exclaimed. Few generations had ever heard these words in their lifetimes. Then, almost as if to confirm his own disbelief, the reporter announced the news grievously: “President Kennedy has been shot.” I echoed his words loudly and without thinking. “The President’s been shot!”

Ma and the reverend stopped their conversation in the kitchen and hovered by the stairs at the edge of the living room. We watched silently as Walter Cronkite and others recounted the events of the past few minutes. It was a surreal experience that I knew millions of others were experiencing simultaneously. My mother cried softly, and the reverend dabbed at his eyes; he kept saying, “I can’t believe it,” as he shook his head.

Soon, the reverend departed, and ma returned to the dark comfort of her room. I continued to watch the black-and-white images on the TV screen, mesmerized by the events of living history parading before me. Before long came the famous moment when Walter Cronkite removed his eyeglasses and stated, as calmly and professionally as possible, that President Kennedy was dead.