Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Kennedy By Matthew Crowther

“You rich folk back in Washington don’t know jack about us!” a man shouted from the back of the crowd that swarmed around the handsome young man being led towards a hastily erected wooden platform. Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy regarded the platform like it was the gallows. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.…Dickens he thought. The heckler continued his shouting -Kennedy could not ignore it as much as he flashed white teethed smiles at people. Not the gallows, but for a Roman Catholic politician from a wealthy background in the Bible Belt, working class area of West Virginia it might as well be the hangman waiting up there rather than the local mayor. A woman carrying a baby in her arms, stepped out into Kennedy’s path. “Mister Kennedy, suh, Mister Kennedy.”

Kennedy stopped much to the consternation of the men flanking him. Already on his trip through West Virginia, he had stopped to talk to enough people to fill a telephone directory. He had even been down the mines to meet and see miners at work. The woman’s black hair was in a bun with wispy curls loose. She seemed to Kennedy so tired and old before her time. Kennedy smiled at her: “Ma’am, you have a beautiful baby. You, er, you will vote come the primary?”

“I will, suh, if you speak for us. If you can rightly tell me that you will help us here. We’re all poor an’ seen enough politicians to know better.”

“I will,” he said conscious again of his clothing. It symbolised the gap between him and them. He tickled the baby’s chin, then put a hand on the mother’s arm before resuming towards the stage. After his introduction, Kennedy took to the stage speaking without a microphone.

“Ladies and gentlemen of Tyler, West Virginia, I thank you for the welcome I have had since arriving in your fine state. I am asked what I will do for the people of your state if I receive the nomination of the Democratic Party and then, hopefully, elected president. I say to you, that I will do my utmost for you all. You deserve as much as anyone else in the country since we are all at our core, American and that means equality for all. Freedom for all. Liberty for all. It is what the country was founded upon and it is what it must be guided on. No more children in poverty, no more work for next to no pennies and no more hardship. You are deserving of this as we all are,” Kennedy glanced down, noting the woman with her baby, “and you will get this change I promise you. When I am President, I will make sure of this. That’s my word. Thank you and God Bless West Virginia.”

At that, Kennedy left the stage.


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