To adults who grew up in the 1970s and ’80s, John F. Kennedy was practically a mythical figure.
He had a beautiful family, the dreams and the aspirations that seemed to define the 1960s. The Baby Boom generation remembers Kennedy as a president of hope, cut down by a gunman at a time when the country’s optimism was high and it seemed that even better things were on the horizon.
Nov. 22 marks the 50th anniversary of his assassination. But in 2013, when magazine racks are full of commemorative issues about him, is Kennedy as important today as he was to the Baby Boomers generation?
At Carrollwood Day School, seniors haven’t had much of a chance to learn much about Kennedy yet – his decades will come later in the school year. They understand that he was a popular president who was assassinated in the prime of his life, but for many, it is the Kennedy family itself, more than JFK’s legacy, that they reflect upon.
“We don’t hear about his presidency much, but we know all about his family,” said CDS senior Gabriella Reiner. “They have a lot of people in government and you always hear about his family but we haven’t learned much about him being president.”
Senior Austin Ham visited Washington, D.C., on a field trip in eighth-grade. He said he learned some things about Kennedy, but also about a lot of other presidents. Kennedy didn’t stand out.
“We heard stories about him, and, we all know what happened (with the assassination),” he said. “We don’t hear much about what he did as a president except for what he did for civil rights.”
Senior Shilpen Patel said that Kennedy is talked about in history class, but school is more about things on a global perspective than going back to that day in 1963.
“We have heard about it, but not a lot,” Patel said. “It’s in the past and, it was big for people of that generation, but for us, 9/11 is the thing we will remember.”
When asked, the CDS students said that, yes, things have changed since that day in Dallas, but said the biggest change is the technology of today, things unheard of in 1963.
“Yes, the world has changed,” Reiner said. “Today we are committed to different things. We have so much to do today with technology. It can be good if we are responsible about it. When Kennedy was president, we didn’t have those things. We just know he was a president who was killed.’’