That Day, the One I’ll Always Remember.
September 11, 2013
The words started to flow some time ago and in the next 90 days or so they will flow even faster and in even greater numbers.
They have come and will come in newspapers, books, videos and via social networking.
Wherever words are written, spoken.
They will come in remembrance of what I have come to call That Day.
They will come in remembrance of the one who called upon us to “Ask not . . .’’
Those 17 words which – more than all of his other words put together – we associate with him.
There were two parts to That Day.
The first was the 728 minutes – give or take – he spent in Fort Worth.
Minutes that were joyous.
Then came his minutes in Dallas.
Minutes which started happy, then turned sad.
As a newspaper reporter in Fort Worth on That Day, I was there for the joy.
Then, later, there in Dallas for the sadness, too.
The sad story has been much told.
But all of the joyous story in Fort Worth has not been fully told.
Good news is not always news.
So for some time I have been writing about the Fort Worth part of the story.
Not for the “news” of it.
But for the joy of it.
For family, for friends.
Maybe even for myself.
I call it an essay – defining essay in the broadest sense of the word.
It is the story not only of the president’s hours in Fort Worth, but of the community itself at that time and the newspaper that served it. And of my family’s longtime association with that newspaper.
My intention is to publish it in printed form, mainly for family and friends, before the 50th anniversary of That Day.
It is now at some 25,000 words and counting.
Even after the 50th anniversary, I plan to continue working on it, for there are countless parts of the story to pursue, to tell.
I do not envision it being finished until I am.
Recently, I was asked to summarize my thoughts on JFK’s 728 minutes in a jubilant Fort Worth.
It was easy.
They are the same basic thoughts I had on That Day a half century ago covering a president of some 1,000 days as a young reporter of not too many more than 1,000 days.
They go like this:
Fort Worth gave the president gifts that day – a hat, boots.
And a warm, enthusiastic embrace.
He left a priceless one for Fort Worth – a reassuring smile.
Fifty years on, it is with us yet.
Even more so.
Surely even more so.
Roger Summers is a journalist and essayist who spends time in Texas, New Mexico and England and in a world of curiosity and creativity. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.