40 years ago, my political hero and idol, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot dead in the streets of Dallas.
JFK was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a perfect man. But his words and ideals encouraged us to strive and fight for something greater than ourselves. JFK reminded us that anything worth doing should be done "not because it is easy, but because it is hard."
It was that kind of thinking that got us to the moon and back. In my mind, that kind of belief is what being an American is all about.
JFK came from a life of privilege and luxury -- I have never been that fortunate. But he also was on his deathbed from sickness and disease most of his life. In fact, he was given his last rites more than once -- I have never been that unfortunate.
JFK was killed 8 years before I was born -- but his influence has had a profound effect on me.
In the end it was a critic's bullet that took his life. But JFK taught me you have to fight for what you believe in. It may be difficult, you may have naysayers -- but in the end we must fight for what is right.
George Bernard Shaw, speaking as an Irishman, summed up its approach to life: Other people, he said, "see things and say: Why?. . . But I dream things that never were and say: Why not?"
-- John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Address to Irish Parliment -- Dublin, Ireland, June 28, 1963