The school year had barely begun, and already Christmas had almost come. Josh had always been taught that children were supposed to hate school, but his first year seemed to fly past. Every day, he'd show up and do his best to sit still, which was a challenge for any first-grader. During recess, he'd burst out the doors in a burst of energy. Running over merry-go-rounds, he'd shout about his heroes at the top of his lungs.
"One day, I'm going to be an explorer, just like Lawrence of Arabia," he'd call, naming his latest favorite movie. "One day, I'm going to have a dog just like Lassie. I want to explore the Old West like Little Joe Cartwright, and when I grow up, I'm going to be president, just like John F Kennedy."
The teachers at Dallas Independent School District didn't think much of the young child running and shouting when he should have been quietly learning, but boys will be boys. He was a good student; when he got into trouble, it was only because he was so energetic. Maybe one day he would be president, and as long as Josh limited his outbursts to outside recess, he was allowed to shout all he wanted. Besides, at least all his heroes were American.
His father only wanted what was best for him. That meant Josh drank his milk every night, watched plenty of television, and valued education. Sometimes, life events were more important than even public schooling, however, and when he found out that President Kennedy would be coming to Dallas and appearing in a parade, he knew he had to take his son. Kennedy was a great man, and Josh would do well to witness such an American leader.
"I'm going to see President Kennedy," Josh announced to his friends at school, bragging in the confidence that none of them would be able to attend. "Me and my dad are going to sit on Elm Street and watch him drive past. Then, one day, I'm going to be president."
With fanfare and anticipation, father and son prepared for the grand day. Josh's father bought a new suit and tie, and both got their hair cut. They couldn't look good enough for such a great man. Josh's mother and her friends procured tiny American flags that they could wave at the president as he drove by.
Josh found a photograph of President Kennedy and his wife in a newspaper, and cut out their pictures to hang above their bed. "Jackie Kennedy is so pretty," he told Jackie Palmer, his pretty classmate who always wore blue bows in her hair. "When you grow up, you'll be as pretty as her. And I'm going to marry you, and be a great American president, just like President Kennedy."
November 22 was a Friday, but Josh's father gave him special permission to miss school. They drove downtown before all the streets could be roped off, but there was already a large crowd. As promised, Josh and his father found their place on Elm Street. A lot of people stood in front of Josh so that he couldn't see.
"I have to see the president," he complained to the uncaring backs of the people who blocked his view. "Someday, I'm going to be a great man, just like President Kennedy."
The hours of waiting were endless. As more time went on, more and more people showed up, and had to stand behind Josh and his dad. Josh wished he had a TV with him so he could have seen the president get off his plane, or the beginning of the parade. His dad assured him that seeing the president live was better than any television broadcast.
Josh waited forever, and after the endless hours, people finally started cheering and clapping. Josh tried to stand on his tip-toes and peek through the crowd, but he couldn't' see anything.
Josh's father reached through the crowd, and placed his boy on his shoulders. Finally, Josh was able to see over the heads of all the adults in front of him, just in time for a convertible to slowly turn around the corner. President Kennedy and some other guy were sitting in the car, along with Jackie Kennedy, who wore a pretty pink suit. Josh thought Jackie from school should wear more pink.
Then, Josh heard a sound like a car backfiring, and two other loud bangs. They didn't sound like the gunfire from TV shows, although later he would claim that he'd immediately recognized the sound. Some people screamed. The car sped up, and after the long wait to get a glimpse of the president, Kennedy was gone in a matter of seconds.
"I saw him, Daddy!" Josh cried, kicking against his father's forearms in excitement. "I saw President Kennedy!"
His father eased him to the ground while Josh continued to babble. "Did you see him, Daddy?"
The only response he received was the sight of his father's shocked, pale face.