JFK: The anniversary we don’t forget.

Fifty years ago, and it still evokes sadness and haunts us a little bit.

This important anniversary of the assasination of President John F. Kennedy has sparked a renovated interest in the history of this tragic day. Fifty years seems like a long time ago, but in the timeline and scheme of things, of world history, it’s quite recent. It’s still a vivid memory for everyone who lived through it.

All week long there have been countless documentaries on TV, print articles and interviews remembering JFK. It’s like a history lesson from the USA. We are revisiting Camelot, analyzing the Kennedys, Jackie, the Civil Rights movement, the time the world came to the brink of nuclear war, and the legacy of JFK.

I wasn’t born yet in 1963, but as a kid I remember all the LIFE Magazines my grandfather kept around the house and how I was enamored of the images of Jackie Kennedy. Such grace, such class and such perfection, all her stylish outfits from over the years. They were my favorite pictures and she was “kind of” my idol. (Nevermind that I always believed she would be my suegra one day, because I was convinced I would marry JFK Jr., but I digress.)

Here are a few things to share.

This week I'm reading Time Magazine's special issue: "The Moment That Changed America" and a few letters from "Letters to Jackie, Condolences from a Grieving Nation" by Ellen Fitzpatrick.

This week I’m reading Time Magazine’s special issue: “The Moment That Changed America” and a few letters from “Letters to Jackie, Condolences from a Grieving Nation” by Ellen Fitzpatrick.

A couple of years ago, a book called “Letters to Jackie” was featured in the New York Times. It’s a book of letters of condolences to the First Lady, from people all over the world, compiled by Ellen Fitzpatrick. Needless to say, some of the letters are so eloquent and simple, that they make you quite emotional. (Here is the link to the article in the NYT). I got a copy of it last year and read a few letter this week. It is unimaginable to understand the grief and confusion people felt at the time. “Y así se puso el día triste cuando se murió,” se acuerda mi abuela. “Lo quería mucho toda la gente.” (She’s been watching and remembering too.)

CBS Sunday Morning (my favorite TV show) devoted an entire 90 minutes to JFK last week. It’s been their highest rated episode in the last few years! Here are 2 videos from this show. In one of them Jackie even speaks Spanish:

PBS also has a wonderful two-part documentary on JFK that is not to be missed. It’s a couple of hours long but it is simply amazing, with all the early footage and archives they include. I had never seen as much of young JFK’s life in video, and for the first time I understood the power of his charisma and allure.

He was a charming man on camera, a great study on the effects of his wit and grace. Even after all the flaws we know about him today, he was definitely a unique human being, truly something else. This is a documentary not to be missed and is part of the American Experience series.  Click on the link here: JFK

From the American Experience series, "JFK."

From the American Experience series, “JFK.”

Must See Documentary Discovery: Reportero

A documentary by Bernardo Ruiz.

A documentary by Bernardo Ruiz.

Here is a documentary that I found online through PBS and that has hit close to home.

“Reportero” follows the experience of Sergio Haro Cordero, a reporter in Tijuana, and the editorial team of the independent “Zeta” newspaper in recent years. It is an excellent film directed and produced by Bernardo Ruiz, and from now until September 20, 2013 you can watch it online at PBS for free with this link:

http://www.pbs.org/pov/reportero/full.php#.UhcH_q79XYs

Or you can go to the POV page from PBS and click on the selection: http://www.pbs.org/pov/

This is not a particularly “feel good movie” nor an easy story to watch, but it’s important to see it. 

Journalism is a tough profession, especially when your life is at risk for pursuing the truth and writing it.  As we know, Mexico does not have a good track record in protecting its journalists nor its citizens- far from it- and this documentary is an eye opener to all the things they are exposed to in this day and age. It has definitely made me aware of how valuable their work is, and I admire them even more.  

About 15 years ago, I had the pleasure of being a colleague of Mr. Sergio Haro Cordero at my local newspaper. I wasn’t even done with college, I wasn’t even pursuing a serious career in journalism (me tocaba la seccion de Sociales, for crying out loud!) but I was impressed by his work ethic, integrity, professionalism (exactly what you see in the film) and generosity in teaching a “rookie” the ropes.

One time, I tagged along for an interview with the state governor (Ernesto Ruffo) and Sergio let me ask a few questions (and even took a picture of me doing so, for my scrapbook.) I remember him working nonstop, always on the beat, always had a camera in hand. It’s so amazing to see that time has not changed him one bit (maybe for a few extra canas en el pelo) and even more inspiring is to see his wife and son supporting him even with all the risks they face (¡que valientes!)… I am in awe of his story and the film. Además, I’m proud to still have the photos he took of my muy breve, pero divertido paso por el periodismo de Baja California. Espero poderlo saludar un día de estos para darle las gracias pues son de mis fotos favoritas.

On another note, Jesus Blancornelas, the founding editor of Zeta and one of the main characters in the film, also has a personal connection to my family. Era vecino y amigo de mis abuelos y hasta sirvio de testigo en la boda civil de mis padres, en los 70’s. Small world. Mi abuela se emociona mucho cuando los recuerda a él y a su esposa, Beba.

So if you have an hour, if you have the interest, please watch. I only regret not having seen it in the movie theater when it came out, but grateful to PBS for airing it now. Bernardo Ruiz y compañia, soy tu fan. 

No se lo pierdan.