Thursday 14 December 2017

Lise Hand: Swirling memories of iconic visit refuse to fade like the autumn leaves

US Marines at a wreath-laying ceremony in New Ross for President Kennedy.
US Marines at a wreath-laying ceremony in New Ross for President Kennedy.
Lise Hand

Lise Hand

THERE wasn't a sound to be heard in the John F Kennedy Arboretum as a solemn minute's silence ticked by, save for the melody of birdsong floating down from the boughs above. All around the clearing, the trees had hung out their brightest colours to honour the memory of a son of Wexford – the Tricolour and the Stars and Stripes hung at half-mast against a beautiful patchwork backdrop of russet, gold, yellow, jade, crimson, emerald, amber, bronze, sand, buttercup.

It was a simple ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of President Kennedy in Dallas, only five months after he had traced his own roots in a pilgrimage to the sunny south-east of Ireland in June 1963.

Although half a century has now passed for the generation of Irish people who remember where they were when the news of his assassination made the country's heart skip a beat, the memories of both his visit and his tragic fate haven't faded like the autumn leaves.

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