Also included in "Four Days" is an essay by the late historian Bruce Catton whose words written just weeks after the assassination cut through a lot of the analysis and gets to the true legacy of this personally flawed, but fascinating man: "What John F. Kennedy left us was most of all attitude," he wrote. "To put it in the simplest terms, he looked ahead. He knew no more than anyone else what the future was going to be like, but he did know that that was where we ought to be looking. Only to a certain extent are we prisoners of the past. The future sets us free. It is our escape hatch. We can shape it to our liking, and we had better start thinking about how we would like it."
Ronald Reagan would embrace a similar futuristic outlook.
What followed Kennedy's assassination was an era of growing and more expensive government, race riots, the divisive Vietnam War and social disintegration. It was not the hopeful future Kennedy envisioned, but Bruce Catton's words remind us we can always start over by using the future as an "escape hatch."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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