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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    More focus should be on JFK’s life, legacy

    Shortly after noon on Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot as he rode in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. In the wake of one of the country’s most tragic moments, the president’s life and legacy became legend.

    The Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination under President Lyndon B. Johnson, concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was acting alone when he shot and killed Kennedy.According to a Nov. 15 Gallup poll,61 percent of Americans believe others were involved. Some conspiracy theorists claim Oswald was working with or for the Mafia or U.S. government.

    Yet quibbling over what exactly happened 50 years ago, when nothing can be changed, misses the point — no heed should be paid to the assassin(s) who ended such a bright and promising career.

    As the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination approaches, let’s stop paying attention to his death and the cloud of conspiracy surrounding it, and instead acknowledge the lessons to be learned from his life and presidency.

    Kennedy’s iconic words, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country,” still echo in the hearts of millions.

    Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Profiles in Courage,” relays the accounts of eight senators who stood up for what they believed in by crossing party lines or going against the traditional paradigms that constrain society.

    Kennedy embodied this kind of conviction as well, both as a veteran and a politician. Although Kennedy’s record is no doubt checkered — with events like the invasion of the Bay of Pigs and his appointment of several racist federal judges — it would be a step in the right direction if our current leaders were to take a page out of Kennedy’s book and reach across the aisle to make difficult decisions.

    In his call for courage, Kennedy sought to fight the “common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.”

    The Peace Corps, an enduring social work program devoted to improving the economic and social conditions of people around the world, was Kennedy’s creation, and it stands as an example of how his legacy lives on. It remains active to this day, a shining beacon of his commitment to promoting “peace and friendship.”

    “JFK saw the potential of educated young people; he announced the Peace Corps on the steps of a college campus,” said Lysette Davis, a graduate student studying higher education and a former Peace Corps volunteer. “Not only are we bringing America to these countries, we are bringing back parts of the countries we serve.

    Kennedy knew learning was a process. Life is a constant lesson, and each lesson leaves an imprint on our past and future.”

    It’s easy to forget Kennedy’s accomplishments when the story of his death is so intriguing but as in any great story, the villain shouldn’t be allowed to overshadow the hero.

    The U.S. should shed its habit of obsessing over conspiracy theories and instead revel in the social reform, political constructs and world advancements that this great man had a hand in.

    Oswald may be the American Gavrilo Princip, but in the words of former Kennedy staffer Jeff Greenfield: “It’s incredibly unsatisfying to believe that this guy, this insignificant person, could have done so consequential an act.”

    Kennedy’s death will remain an iconic event in American history, but his legacy should be remembered as one of service and commitment to social progress rather than conspiracy theories and futile finger-pointing.

    Nick Havey is a sophomore studying pre-physiology and Spanish. Follow him @nihavey.

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