By Kendal Gapinski, Daily Local News, 11/22/13
Even though it’s been 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, local residents vividly remember their connections to the beloved president and that dark November day in Dallas when he was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald.
Dan Wofford grew up with close ties to Kennedy. His father, former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford, helped found the Peace Corps while serving as an adviser to President Kennedy.
Wofford said his father worked on Kennedy’s 1960 campaign and also in the White House as a Civil Rights adviser. His father even wrote a book on the 1960s called “Of Kennedys and Kings.”
Wofford said that while most of his connections are through his father, he was in the presence of Kennedy twice. One time when he was 6, Wofford said he remembered Kennedy picking his father up in his convertible on his way to the Senate.
“He was running for president, but still driving himself,” said Wofford.
Since his father worked with Kennedy in founding the Peace Corps, Wofford said his family lived in Ethiopia from September 1962 to May 1964. It was while they were living there that the family received the news that Kennedy had been shot.
“It was late, about midnight, and my bedroom was near the phone,” Wofford said. “I hadn’t gotten to sleep yet when I heard the phone ring. My dad answered it, and I got out of bed and heard him groaning. I had never heard him react like that. I asked him what happened, and he said he just gotten news from the American embassy that Kennedy had been shot. I was 8, and I knew it was an awful, awful thing.”
Wofford said he remembers that in school the next day, the mood was somber.
“Ethiopia was just in mourning,” Wofford said. “Kennedy was a vibrant leader all over the world.”
West Chester Borough Councilman Bill Scott said he visited Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday to pay his respects to the former president. Scott said that as a teenager, he had traveled to hear Kennedy speak about a dozen times.
“It was like I was going out to see a sports hero or something,” Scott said.
Scott said he was in ROTC class when he received the news that the president had been shot. He said the atmosphere remained somber days after the assassination.
Scott had traveled to Washington to see Kennedy inaugurated — he also was there to see him laid to rest.
“The inauguration was such a happy event, it was really something,” Scott said. “It was just such a happy, exuberant crowd, with him leading the inaugural parade from the Capitol to the White House. And then, at the funeral, it was just very, very powerful to see him go back the other way in a casket.”
“It was unreal,” he added. “It was surreal.”
Scott’s daughter Rose visited Kennedy’s grave Thursday with her father. She said she felt that Kennedy’s death symbolized an entire generation.
“It’s a whole different generation’s question of ‘do you remember where you were when …’,” Rose said. “For my generation, that question is about Sept. 11. It makes me wonder if every generation can identify with a certain moment in time.” …
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