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Verse on son's death marks John F. Kennedy's killing 37 years a

by Bob Stealey

EDITOR

You may think it strange that today, the 37th "anniversary" of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, I am using a poem on his son, "John John," who was killed in an airplane crash in July 1999.

The verse was written by frequent Bob'n'Along contributor Connie Langer Huffman, who had submitted it to us this past July to run just before the one-year date of the younger Kennedy's death. However, at the time, I already had a column written for the intended date. So, according to her request, I am using it now. Titled "John John -- He Kept the Promise," it follows:

Death came to his father's door.

When he was just a little boy.

A little boy of three -- only three

He said his last farewell, you see.

His mother in a blackened veil across

Her lovely anguished face.

Sister Caroline kneeling at the

Coffin with a small child's grace.

On that cold November day

Their beloved father went away.

Away in a flag-draped coffin

On Washington's cobble-stoned street

Bringing sadness with each beat.

Black Jack, the riderless horse

Was a part of the procession

As old Bob was in Lincoln's day.

Mrs. Kennedy had planned it just that way.

As the caisson rolled by

Little John John stepped out,

To give a gallant salute and say

His last good-bye.

He appeared to be a little man

A little man who didn't cry.

Washington's streets were lined

With a sea of faces from all races.

Our land was filled with so much emotion,

An entire nation was trapped in grief

From ocean to ocean.

Jackie, the blessed first lady of our land

She appeared so fragile yet so strong.

She held up with reserved grace among the throngs.

On a sloping hillside in Arlington National Cemetery

This is where his grave would be -- November 25, 1963.

As Jackie lit the eternal flame,

His newfound legacy became history.

She became a mighty force

Protecting her children in every way.

She instilled in them a way to be their own person

Not as the world would have them be.

The lamp would light the way, you see.

Our little John John became John F. Kennedy Jr.,

A sophisticated person in his own right.

He loved life and experienced it in the flame's light

From a celebrity owning "George"

To a simple walk in Central Park

His life was one that always held the spark.

He kept the promise to go, and see, and do

Not to be tainted by the throngs.

He kept the promise to his mother

He sang his own song.

It was on a somber night in May 1994 when he emerged

From his mother's New York apartment door

To announce his family's grief once more

He announced hear death with

The Kennedy courage in his eyes

This time the grown-up John would cry.

The world embraced these children once again

It seemed their pain and grief would never end

Jackie, oh Jackie could we ever part

With our lovely "queen of hearts"?

Ecclesiastes 3 relates:

"To everything there is a Season,

And a time to every purpose,

Under the heaven: A time to be born, a time to die."

John would be the next to say good-bye.

He was cut down like a lily of the field

Cut down in his prime -- July 1999

Cut down with his beloved.

To the world it seemed a crime.

Our promise didn't keep,

The one we cradled in our minds

That he would be our president sometime.

He kept the promise.

He kept the promise, but the promise didn't keep.

Like his father, he was struck down in his prime.

The picture of that little lad,

Saluting, will be forever engraved in our minds.

We love you, John John!

Thanks, Connie. And to all, an enjoyable, thankful thanksgiving!

Exponent-Telegram Editor Bob Stealey can be reached by phone at (304) 626-1438 or by e-mail at rstealey@exponent-telegram.com.

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