* EDITOR’S NOTE: It would likely surprise our readers to learn that over the lifetime of this humble blog, the one article which gets more reads than any other is not about Robert F. Kennedy Jr…Nor is it a story about his father, his uncle Ted, or even President Kennedy.
Believe it or not, our most popular blog post of all time is a story about John F. Kennedy Jr., who died in a plane crash nine years ago today. The accident, officially ruled pilot error by the NTSB, also killed his wife Carolyn and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette.
While we never would have expected an article about JFK Jr. being the top-rated post on a website about RFK Jr., it just goes to show you how much people still love dear “John-John” (even though he never liked being called that silly nickname), and most importantly, that he is not forgotten, even after nearly a decade.
On this sad anniversary, we decided to re-post the original article about JFK Jr. from our archives. So if you missed it last year, or perhaps you’re ready to read this one again, the full story is reprinted below.
TODAY WE REMEMBER…AND SALUTE YOU, JOHN-JOHN
JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY, JR.:
NOVEMBER 25, 1960- JULY 16, 1999
Hard to believe it has really been eight years since John F. Kennedy Jr. left us.
On July 16, 1999, when the private plane he was piloting disappeared off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, the whole world prayed. We waited, holding our collective breath, for the next five days, hoping that somehow, this was all some kind of horrible mistake. It just couldn’t be possible.
Surely, we thought, he’s going to turn up somewhere, alive and well, and he’d ask us with a smile what all the fuss was about.
“If anyone can make it, it’s John,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. assured a reporter. “My guess is that he’s probably marooned with the others on some small, uncharted island off the Massachusetts coast.”
But when the word finally came to us that the wreckage had been found and there were no survivors, it still seemed impossible to comprehend somehow. How could our beloved John-John, the former President’s only son, that charming, whip-smart, beautiful young man who carried the hopes of a generation on his shoulders, be taken from us so suddenly? So unfairly?
Eight years later, the loss still tugs at our heartstrings. And one can’t help but be tempted to think about the “what-if’s”…
Had he lived, he may have run for the mayorship of New York City and shown us how a *real leader* handles a crisis in the aftermath of September 11. Hell, he might even be President by now (just imagine what a different world this would be today had he been running the country instead of George W. Bush these past eight years)!
He and Carolyn would probably be watching their children grow, enjoying this summer vacationing on the Cape together. Most likely John would now have thousands of flight hours in his logbook, taking to the skies every weekend in his Piper Saratoga, now more commonly referred to as “Air Force Three”.
Then again, John F. Kennedy Jr. may have instead chosen to remain a private citizen, focusing instead on making George Magazine his life’s work. He could have published several books by now, and had his first Pulitzer prize sitting on the mantle at home. He would be 47 this November, and no doubt, still making hearts flutter. He’d still be making self-depricating wisecracks about being “the sexiest man alive.”
Whatever he’d be doing today, you can bet that it would be something he loves. He’d be making the most of every day, never taking for granted that each moment of life is a gift. (Isn’t that why they call it “the present?”)
“Every Gift But The Gift Of Years”
During his memorial service on July 23, 1999, John’s uncle Ted Kennedy said: “We dared to think that this John Kennedy would live to comb grey hair, with his beloved Carolyn by his side. But, like his father, he had every gift but length of years.”
We were so fortunate to have him on this earth for 38 years. He brought us so much light, laughter, and hope. Even if that hope was so tragically dashed, we shall never forget that every day of his life was a gift to us all.
For all he gave, we are thankful.
For all he never had the chance to give, we mourn.
We remember him as this nation always did: as the brave little boy who stood erect and saluted as his father’s funeral procession went by on November 25, 1963. Even at the tender age of three, he inspired us all to stand tall and be strong in the face of tragedy and sadness.
Shortly after John’s passing, then-Vice President Al Gore said: “He carried his legend with enormous grace and a commitment to live up to his father’s legacy and his mother’s love…One cannot help but reflect that the Kennedy family has given more to our country than any family should have to do. But our country is so much better because of the gifts that they have given.”
Indeed. And so today, those of us who now turn our eyes to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in hopes that he will pick up the torch would like to pause and say a very special thanks to the Kennedy family for all they have given, and all that they will continue to give their country in the future.
We remember those who have gone before their time…Joe Jr., Kathleen, Jack, Bobby, David, Michael, Carolyn, Lauren, and John-John. We shall not forget you. And we salute you!
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