Most people who were alive at the time remember where they were and what they were doing. But then, that was fully 50 years ago. Often, the memory fades, over such a long time, but not of this incident.
Of course, I’m writing about the assassination of President John Kennedy. This is the fifty year anniversary of that event in Dallas, Texas, an event that literally rocked our world. Some twenty years later, Ronald Reagan was shot, but lived, due to the heroic efforts of medical personnel and the quick reactions of secret service officials.
One local resident remembers the Kennedy assassination very well, because Joyce Hailicka has spent the past 50 years collecting memorabilia from that distant event. It all came about because younger brother Ted Kennedy happened to be on a fund raising tour for a California Senator and he wanted to thank Joyce for her efforts in that campaign. Kennedy tried in vain to get Joyce to serve as an intern in Washington, but the letter he sent she still has in her collection—a most prized possession.
Throughout the years, Joyce has collected an amazing array of memorabilia. These she will be displaying at the Medford Center, directly across from Ashley Furniture in a space she has rented. The display will be open from Memorial Day weekend (the date of Kennedy’s birth) until November 22 (the date of his assassination). Doors will open at 10 a. m. and close at 5 p. m. and the entire exhibit is free.
Several rooms of photos, magazine covers, books, DVDs and tapes are in the collection, and there are viewing rooms with large screens where people can sit and take in the fullness of the collection. There is a replica of the presidential office, a room dedicated to Jackie and collections of photos and magazine covers of Bobby and Teddy. One room has an extensive collection of photos of the Kennedy clan.
The endeavor has been a labor of love, as Joyce tells me while standing near a life-sized bust of JFK. But the collection means nothing if it can’t be shared. Cover photos from Life and Saturday Evening Post magazines cover a long corridor, each showing a different aspect of our 35th president. Joyce asks, “Do you remember the words, ‘ask not what your country can do for you . . .?’” You remember if you were alive at the time, those words are forever written on your heart. Joyce remembers JFK as being an inspirational leader, not only of our country, but of the free world. He was bigger than life, and that life abbreviated, very suddenly, in Dallas. Joyce has chosen not to go into that part of the story, but more to offer a celebration of life for one of our presidents and the person who was a war hero in World War II.
Regardless of politics, this is a work that will impress even the most skeptical. Joyce Hailicka, who has given so generously to the community and to the region, has put together a massive collection and is offering it to the public free of charge. This is something that you won’t want to miss. It is a history lesson, but more than that a glimpse into the lives of the Kennedys and that of Joyce Hailicka.