Politics in America was changed by the three gunshots in Dallas a half-century ago today. One of Missouri’s leading historians says that’s the day some other things died, or started to die, too.
Distinguished history professor James Giglio at Missouri State University, who has written four books about John F. Kennedy’s administration, worries people are increasingly ignorant about history and remember little of Kennedy’s accomplishments. In fact, he says, Kennedy is the only President who is recalled on the day he died rather than on the day he was born.
Giglio remembers a special national spirit in the Kennedy days. “Kennedy always stressed that public service was a responsibility for all of us, that politics could be an honorable profession,” he says, “What American would see in the conduct of our political figures today that ideal, that public service is something that should be pursued?”
He says that spirit died within a few years after the assassination in Dallas, mortally wounded by the bitterness of Vietnam, Watergate, the failures of the Carter administration, the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan years, and more recent failures.
Giglio says the polls showed Kennedy’s approval rating never dropped below 58-percent while he was President. He says Kennedy was the last President trusted by a majority of Americans.