An End to America's Camelot -- and Mine: How the Kennedys and the Assassination of JFK Influenced Me

Tammy Cox By Tammy Cox, 29th Oct 2017 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>News>Politics

Each year as November approaches many of us who lived through it remember the horrible day JFK was assassinated. This year with the release of so much more information it seems even more poignant.

In college during the 60s.

College students in the early 60s were energized by the Kennedys and many were attracted to politics and public service especially after the assassination of JFK.

In 1960, I was an eager freshman at the University of Denver, majoring in international relations. My adviser and favorite teacher was Dr. Josef Korbel, the father of Madeleine Albright who years later become Secretary of State.

Issues of the Tme

For students, the early '60s were exciting and troubling times. We had our first Catholic president and were fascinated by our very own Camelot. We were enamored of our beautiful First Family and proud of how JFK handled the Cuban missile crisis. We met Ted Kennedy when he came to Denver to campaign for his brother in 1960. He was young and vibrant and made politics exciting! While at DU, international relations, politics and civil rights became lifetime passions. I credit the Kennedy brothers.

The quest for civil rights was in full swing and one of my strongest memories was the puzzling controversy caused by a picture in our yearbook of an inter-racial couple holding hands. I had grown up in the North, but my senior year in high school my family moved to Texas where I had my first real introduction to racism.

A Personal Journey

In the spring of 1963, with a broken heart, I left DU because I could no longer afford the tuition. I returned to Texas feeling defeated and lost. Then my older brother invited me to join him at his new Navy assignment in Imperial Beach, Calif. We moved into a small trailer park that housed many Navy families and while he was on duty, I spent my days working in a small Latino-owned diner nearby. Most of our customers were Navy personnel or civilians who worked at the base but we also got other visitors for our great Mexican food. The trailer park was a close-knit family community that welcomed us, even though I got tired of explaining that I was the sister and not the wife.

That Horrible Day

We had only been in Imperial Beach a few weeks when President Kennedy was assassinated. For days we were all glued to our televisions, in disbelief that such a thing could happen in the country we loved. The sailors had all lost their commander-in-chief and, at the diner, I remember seeing many tough guys with tears streaming down their cheeks. Some were angry, but most were just incredibly sad.

Camelot had ended. And at only 21, my own life, which had so recently held such exciting promise, had lost meaning.

But then a few months later, with renewed determination, I returned home for my degree in government (the first of three) from the University of Texas and I have spent the rest of my life trying to make a difference.


1960S, History, Jfk Assassination

Meet the author

author avatar Tammy Cox
Parent educator and instructor trainer, relationship coach, public speaker, writer, Mother, Grandmother, former caregiver of elderly parent and now several dogs and a cat.

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author avatar Barbara Frandsen
1st Nov 2017 (#)

Tammy did an outstanding job sharing our nation's despair over the death of Kennedy. At the time of the assassination, I was just out of college and was teaching first grade children. The Kennedy death seemed unreal. How could something this tragic happen in our country? Truly, Camelot ended.

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author avatar Tammy Cox
2nd Nov 2017 (#)

Thank you Barbara! That day hardly seems that long ago!

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