President Kennedy in Cork City.

EDITORIAL: Thanksgiving and Thankfulness

It is that time of year again when we give thanks for all the wonderful things that life in America can bestow.

It is also a time of year when we take note of the passing of one season into another. And taking such note inevitably leads us to casting our minds back. Some consider the pilgrims, now way back in the history's rear view mirror.

Not so far back is President John F. Kennedy. This year, on the day before Thanksgiving, we mark the sixtieth anniversary of the assassination of our 35th president.

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It is always an exercise worth undertaking, asking ourselves how this president or that president would react when faced with this crisis, or that one.

In the case of President Kennedy, of course, there will always be unanswered questions in all manner of contexts.

Be that as it may it is now, and hard for some to believe, sixty years since Kennedy was cruelly gunned down in Dallas.

For millions of people in America and around the world, the assassination of the president remains a kind of benchmark, a "where were you when" moment in time.

There was the world before JFK, and the world after him.

Memories apart, we, all of us, live in a very different time to 1963.

Still, we do well to pause a moment each year in the waning days of November and allow due acknowledgment of John Kennedy’s role in, for one thing, the renaissance of Irish America.

Kennedy’s winning of the presidency, and his actions as president, are usually studied in a general American or global political context.

In a specific Irish context there will always be the cherished memories of JFK's visit to Ireland in June, 1963. His promise to return in the springtime would not come to pass. But it yet echoes down the decades.

Again, and in that specific Irish context, there is the memory of the final salute at Kennedy's grave in Arlington National Cemetery. That final salute was delivered by members of the Irish army's officer cadet school rifle drill team.

The orders that carried over the rolling ground and fell on the ears of the young Irish soldiers and all in attendance were issued in Irish. This remains a most extraordinary moment in history, both Irish and American.

In a purely Irish American sense, Kennedy's election, his all-too-brief 1,000 days in office, and the lasting legacy he has bequeathed to us all, amount to the kind of long term psychological uplifting that may well indeed have played a nurturing role in all that we’ve seen and praised in the years after the president's passing.

After what Kennedy achieved, just about anything was possible for Irish America. And many, very many, took up the torch that his legacy offered.

In that regard, we celebrate JFK’s life and achievements at this time of year, even as we pause to recall his tragic and untimely end.

And we give thanks for all the better things that the past year has bestowed. Happy Thanksgiving.