Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Americans united in grief after tragedy
Nov. 21, 2013 at 5:21 a.m.
The following is a rerun of an editorial published in the Victoria Advocate on Nov. 24, 1963, in reaction to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy:
The first profound shock and confusion of unreality perhaps by now have abated sufficiently to attempt a few inadequate words on the meaning and the depth of one of the great tragedies of American history.
This sorrowing Sunday morning, the body of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th president of the United States, lies in state in the East Room of the White House. The nation's grief is concentrated in that room, just as it was concentrated in that same room nearly a hundred years ago at the bier of another martyred president, Abraham Lincoln.
In a little while, the mortal remains of our president will be removed in a cortege up mourning-draped Pennsylvania Avenue to the rotunda of the nation's Capitol, and in that historic place the grieving thousands of just plain Americans will file by to pay their last respects.
There is no point in trying to explain a monstrous crime of murder such as this in terms of logic or sense, because neither logic nor sense have any part in such a crime. There can only be a feeling of helplessness that such a thing could be done in our time, perhaps a rush of anger at the perpetrator or perpetrators, and that followed by an overwhelming sense of personal loss and grief.
On this day, there are very likely few Americans but feel they are deeply and personally involved in this tragedy which has befallen our nation. With the Kennedy family, and most of all Mrs. Kennedy, their heads are bowed in a communion of sorrow and grief which is deeply personal and profoundly sympathetic.
Perhaps, in this period of a national retreat into mourning, there may come moments of reappraisal and self-assessment both as a nation and as individuals. Perhaps there may be moments of sincere seeking for divine guidance and consolement upon which mankind must ever lean in its times of extreme distress.
For Texans, there must be an added burden of bewilderment and shock because the crime was committed in one of its great metropolitan centers of pride and achievement at Dallas. But this can be only a superficial stigma, if it is a stigma at all, because such a crime is not a deed of logic or sense or locale. It had nothing to do with Texas except that this happened to be the place, and this happened to be the day and hour.
In this time of sorrow, this nation cannot but feel the depth of its need to face the demands of an early tomorrow which must surely come. The sacrifice of our president does not remove one iota of the urgency of world crisis in which this generation must spend its days, nor does it solve any of the critical domestic issues which were faced by John Fitzgerald Kennedy and which must still be faced by his survivors.
To Lyndon Baines Johnson, a native son of the Texas Hill Country, has fallen a challenge and a responsibility as great as ever befell any presidential successor in the history of this nation.
A great many of us in Texas, because this is where he comes from, know President Johnson intimately and well. To those of us who know him best, there is a confidence that the challenge and the responsibility will be met in full.
There is a further note of encouragement, and it is a fact: No vice president in the history of this country was ever better prepared, better advised on all the ins and outs of foreign involvements and domestic problems, than Lyndon B. Johnson.
Our new president will need the help, the confidence and the understanding of all of us in the difficult days of transition that lie immediately ahead. That we are ready to give in full measure.