The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
An American Tragedy & Thanksgiving

On this day, November 22, 1963, my second-grade class at Fletcher Elementary School in Fletcher, Oklahoma was returning from recess on the playground. We came into our classroom and heard strange noises coming from the intercom speaker on the wall. It sounded like a radio news broadcast, but the static was so bad it was difficult to understand what was being said. So, as we listened, we began to put the words together and what we understood struck terror and sorrow in my heart. John F. Kennedy, the only President I was old enough to know the name of had been assassinated while driving down Commerce Street in Dallas, Texas in an open car.

At first, we were understanding that he had been shot and was being rushed to a hospital for treatment. We did not know yet how extensive his wounds were, but soon it would be reported, “President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is dead.” Vice President Lyndon Banes Johnson had been sworn in as the new President of the United States of America.

I had been hearing of the Cuba missile crisis in the news and had been concerned that our country might go to war. Now our President had been murdered on the streets of a major American city. I was terribly unsettled. At this point in my life, it was as if our country was at war and in deep trouble. When I got home from school, I turned on the TV and no programing was on except for news reports about the President’s assassination. In the days to come all that was on TV was either news reports or dirge sounding music. We were in a national emergency.

I remember the images of the lines of thousands of people flocking into the capitol rotunda to pay respects to the once most powerful leader in the world. Soon we would watch the funeral procession with a horse drawn cart and cavalry riders preceding and military personnel walking on each side. I remember the tear-jerking moments of the President’s widow, Jacquelin, weeping over the flag draped coffin and his toddler son, John Jr. Saluting as the cart passed by.

Basically, the world, as I knew it, stood still for several weeks as we said, “Goodbye” to a great man.
As a young boy, I knew nothing of politics or parties or policies or personalities. All I knew was that our President was dead and had been murdered. I saw an entire nation grieving the tragic death of our leader. I recall wondering how we would move forward and would we still have a country after this?

Looking back, I know that JFK, like all men had his good points and bad points. His presidency had successes and failures. In spite of this, he was our President and we respected his office. Because we had a constitution in place our nation would survive and move forward under the direction of future leaders. And I know that God has given us a great nation that is the standard for all nations in the world. God has blessed the United States of America.

As we approach the holiday dedicated to giving thanks to our Almighty God, let us not forget the struggles and even tragedies He has carried us through. We survived a national depression, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, two world wars and other devastating wars, the attacks of 911 and there will be more in the future. As long as America blesses God, He will bless us. Let us give thanks in and for all things. May your Thanksgiving season bring wonderful faith building memories to you and yours.

This Sunday we will begin the Advent Season. There will be the lighting of candles, the distribution of daily devotion guides and a message from the Word of God in anticipation of the coming of the Christ. Our theme this year is THE PROMISED ONE and Sunday’s message will be The Mighty God based on Colossians 1:15-20. This means the Christmas music will begin. See you Sunday.

Thankful for our Country,

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