By Michael J. Brooks
Recently I read “Twenty-Six Seconds—A Personal History of the Zapruder Film,” by Alexandra Zapruder, the granddaughter of Abraham Zapruder who captured the shocking seconds of movie frames in Dealey Plaza that awful day in November 1963. She explained how her grandfather gave the film to the U.S. Secret Service and then sold rights to “Life” magazine believing they would treat it respectfully. Zapruder, according to his granddaughter, described himself as “the wrong man at the wrong time,” a bystander who remained shaken the rest of his life by what he recorded.
Many say that day in Dallas ended the Age of Innocence.
For baby boomers, the Kennedy assassination is the Holy Grail. My generation remembers where we were and what we were doing when we heard. We find ourselves mystified by it, trying to understand it. And we find ourselves drawn to Dallas and to the Kennedy gravesite in Arlington in the same way Richard Dreyfus was drawn to the landing site in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
Another baby boomer, President Bill Clinton, was likewise fascinated by the assassination. His friend and Mrs. Clinton’s Rose Law firm partner, Webb Hubbell, worked in the Department of Justice, and was considered for the Attorney General position before Janet Reno was named. Hubbell reported in “Friends In High Places” that Clinton asked him to discover who killed JFK and if there was an alien in Roswell, New Mexico. Unfortunately, Hubbell resigned from government service in 1994 as part of the Whitewater investigation. No other biographer I’ve found has told the rest of the story and whether Clinton found the answers.
We had an interesting brush with JFK in our church in 2019 when a member died after a long illness.
Our ministry assistant found a note in church records that Linda joined our church on Nov. 23, 1963 as an 11-year-old girl. Of course the date leapt to me from the pages. The JFK assassination was on Friday (as all four presidential assassinations have been, strangely). Was there an event at our church that Saturday night? What brought Linda to faith during that dark weekend? I wish I’d known this earlier. I would’ve asked her.
But the implication still intrigues me. On a weekend when our nation mourned, a little girl gave her life to Christ, and continued to serve God through our church for 50 years.
It’s a mystery exactly what happened at our church that weekend, or if the date was simply wrongly recorded. But it does suggest when our lives are shaken by tragedy, we often see our need for God.
As the classic hymn says, “Build your hopes on things eternal, hold to God’s unchanging hand.” -30-
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.