JFK in November

Yesterday, I received an email message from the staff at WGBH-TV about their plans to broadcast anniversary tribute programs to mark 50 years since the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. I was nine years old when President Kennedy was killed, and that date “will live in infamy” for my generation as Dec. 7, 1941, lived in infamy for my parents’ generation—and then they experienced a second infamous day. I am not looking forward to anniversary recollections of the brutal shooting of JFK. When I got the email notice, I didn’t like the idea of “Channel 2” selling me the JFK programs like an episode of Antiques Roadshow.  It’s a sponsor pitch: “Learn how your company can join WGBH in remembering our native son.”

Here’s what WGBH sent:

This November, PBS pays tribute to President John F. Kennedy on the eve of the 50th anniversary of his assassination, with intriguing new takes on our 35th president’s life and death. PBS’s five television programs are anchored by JFK, a new four-hour, two-part special from WGBH’s award-winning history series American Experience that will air in November. The tribute kicks off with a special event at our WGBH Studios. Contact Nancy Dieterich, General Sales Manager, (nancy_dieterich@wgbh.org or 617.300.3730) to learn how your company can join WGBH in remembering our native son.

This doesn’t feel like the right thing to do. Selling cars on Presidents Day is one thing. Packaging JFK’s assassination is something else. Maybe their screen should just go dark for three hours on November 22.


3 Responses to JFK in November

  1. Marie says:

    Sponsor-pitching the tragic death of President Kennedy is unseemly. My memories like yours Paul are vivid even today… it was a trauma for me and my family. But sad to say, I’ll feel compelled to watch some of it. Over the years my JFK-TV watching has become very selective. I prefer to read and look at old photographs… the Kennedy legacy in my admittedly-biased view is still much of Camelot… the rally for youth to become involved… the shining light on a hill… I remember the positives… his legacy still belongs to us and our memory.

    There is a lot of selling of good people… using their good works and reputation for corporate profit… but that discussion is for another day…

  2. kad barma says:

    Ironic that a blog regularly festooned with JFK memories ad nauseum would find itself compelled to complain about someone else showing up for one of the more notable “dates in JFK history”. I was 3, and I can remember it vividly in the black and white of my grandparent’s TV set. (the funeral was televised over the thanksgiving weekend during our annual visit). The assassination, for better or for worse, is the moment that had the most impact, and a 3 year old having clear memory of anything speaks as loudly to that as any experience I’ve ever had in my life. Preferring to recollect “Camelot” might make certain Kennedy-philes happy, but, for the rest of the world and especially those who lived through those days, that was the moment when everything changed.