|The Miami News, Jan. 20, 1961|
"The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century..." -John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jan. 20, 1961
University of Miami president Donna Shalala was a 19-year-old freshman with a lot of options.From Leonard Pitts:
"I could go to graduate school, I could go to law school," she says. "Before I heard the speech I was thinking of being a journalist, a war correspondent as a matter of fact."
But Kennedy's speech changed all that.
She remembers feeling like Kennedy wasn't addressing the nation, he was addressing her. And "he was talking about public service," she says.
She'd never considered public service until that day, until his words hit her "like a splash of water."
We were so young on that snow-filled day.
This was before we learned that Kennedy was fooling around with Marilyn and anyone else in a skirt. It was before we knew he was debilitated by bad health. It was before the riot in Watts, before the plumbers burgled that DNC office in the Watergate complex, before a helicopter plucked our people from a rooftop in Saigon, before we were held hostage at an embassy in Tehran, before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It was before the Ambassador Hotel, the Lorraine Motel. It was before Dallas.
More to the point, it was before we learned to lower our expectations and wear cynicism like armor into an often disappointing world. We have come a great distance from that snow-filled day half a century ago. We are young sometimes, still.
But we have never managed to be quite that young again.