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Kennedy honored at annual remembrance

Date: 11/28/2011

Nov. 28, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — For some who attended the 48th annual memorial service denoting the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the death of the 35th president was part of history, but for many others it was still a painful and personal memory.

About 50 people gathered at the Kennedy Memorial at Forest Park on Nov. 22 for the brief ceremony that involved both current elected officials and people who knew the slain president.

William Marot, co-chairman of the event, said this was the only annual memorial service in the country for Kennedy. Marot recalled the last time he saw the president, which was Oct. 26, 1963, – less than a month before his assassination – when he appeared at the laying of the cornerstone of the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College.

“How young and vibrant President Kennedy looked,” Marot said.

Springfield held a particular place in the Kennedy presidency as Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe noted. A college student when Kennedy was elected, Ashe said the candidate appeared on the steps of Springfield City Hall the day before his election.

Ashe remarked on the faithfulness of the attendees, many of who have been participating in the annual event for years.

Congressman Richard Neal cited Kennedy’s sense of humor and added that Kennedy inspired thousands of people to run for office.

Mayor Domenic Sarno said that Kennedy brought a sense of resiliency and renewed hope to the nation.

Former Mayor Charles Ryan knew Kennedy and said, “How fortunate we were to have him in our midst. It was a special time in our lives.”

He said he, like that the people assembled today, would come together once a year to note Kennedy’s life “as long as we are physically able to go out of our houses and go anywhere.”

Almost 50 years after his death, Ryan said that Kennedy “is still a model, is still a beacon” for Americans.

Sarno, Marot and Neal laid roses on the memorial stone while “Taps” was played at the conclusion of the ceremony.

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