° empty

Many things remain after assassination

“That day changed our lives forever,” my mother said on the phone.

For my generation, that may best describe the tragic events of Sept. 11, but for my parent’s generation those words also describe Nov. 22, 1963 — the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

The Natchez Democrat, the next morning, devoted almost its entire front page to the horrible events of that day, which, not unlike 9/11, started as a beautiful sunny day and ended in tragedy.

And like 9/11, Kennedy’s assassination is a day that left an indelible mark in the memories of most living Americans.

As it happened in the days after the World Trade Center buildings collapsed in Manhattan, America joined together in grief and patriotism as LBJ was sworn in and JFK was buried at Arlington.

But had the world truly changed? Maybe it did for a few days, months or even years.

A recent look at the headlines from the morning before JFK was shot shows that as much as we Americans said we desired true change, much remains the same fifty years after the horrific events in Dallas and 12 years after the Sept. 11 tragedy.

One might think Washington’s current squabbles over the debt ceiling are a recent obsession. The bold face type written across the Nov. 22, 1963, edition of The Democrat tells another story.

“JFK Gets Bill to Raise National Debt Ceiling to $315 Billion” read the top story’s headline of that morning’s paper. Like today, Republicans and Democrats were arguing about how much money the government could borrow before the very foundations of American government crumbled.

Now, the debt ceiling is more than 50 times higher than the limit agreed to in 1963, and politicians on both sides of the aisle are still making the same arguments.

That same front page also featured another article that might have be ripped from today’s headlines. With the headline “GOP says Kennedy Program in a Mess,” the article quoted Republican lawmakers as declaring the Kennedy presidency a failure and in complete shambles.

The Natchez Democrat editorial of the day warned that the federal government under Kennedy’s leadership was headed to nothing more than a “privileged aristocracy.”

It seems not much has changed in local attitudes when it comes to the federal government. A couple of pages into the front section, another article heralded the first reported cure of a leukemia case in the world.

Fifty years later doctors and scientists are still fighting leukemia and other forms of cancer.

Locally, the Natchez Chamber of Commerce retail division was asking storeowners to contribute money to buy the city new Christmas decorations.

The Christmas parade was  set for Dec. 3, The Natchez Democrat asked readers to donate to the Poor Children’s Christmas Tree and the women of Kingston Methodist Church were planning to have a cake sale downtown. The civilian workforce in Natchez rose to 20,230, the paper announced. Fifty years later the workforce has shrunk to 12,720.

As much as Americans vowed to change, it seems in many ways the country hasn’t. In many ways, things have changed greatly. But politicians still squabble, doctors still look for a cancer cure and local residents continue to prepare for Christmas.

The memories may be etched in our minds forever and we may see the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 as marking great social and political change, but the last 50 years are a reminder that as much as thing have changed many things remain the same.

 

Ben Hillyer is design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.

News

Photo gallery: Jewish community celebrates Passover with Seder dinner

News

NASD graduation rate up, but still lags behind state average

News

The Dart: Vidalia man studies, takes care of family, too

News

Natchez Early College Academy Fun Day to help raise money for trip to Washington, D.C.

News

Parent University set for Thursday

News

Sunday focus: Voters to determine a quarter million in salaries May 10

News

Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office investigates body found in Monterey

News

County seeking ambulance proposals

News

‘Suzi’s Girls’ remember lasting legacy left by coach

News

Natchez man killed in Ferriday wreck Friday night

News

Photo gallery: The bluff has gone to the DockDogs

News

Tactics in case surrounding alleged attack of parish DA questioned

News

Student charged in verbal assault of teacher

News

City back in court to determine damages in Roundstone case

News

Report: Cuts put school district $1.5M short

News

Faith and Family: R.V.I.C.S. helps Children’s Home

News

Photo gallery: Chalk artist inspired by God creates artwork at First Baptist Church

News

Man previously arrested on rape charges, charged with another sex crime

News

Natchez-Adams School District to pay $127K to former principal

News

Judge dismisses former assistant principal’s lawsuit against school district

News

City receives Urban Youth Corps grant

News

Natchez police make arrest in weekend attack

News

Natchez tourism director’s car left in limbo without commission

News

News photos: Ferriday fire