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People often tell me I could be a great man, I’d rather be a good man.” John F. Kennedy, Jr.

 

I remember being at my mother’s house when the search began for John F. Kennedy Jr.missing airplane. The silence as the nation waited in prayer was palpable. As camera crews filmed the U.S. Coast Guard scouring parts of the Atlantic Ocean for any sign of the plane, there was a haze that just lingered even through my own television screen. I thought of Prince Diana’s death a year prior. Two iconic figures gone just like that…

People were drawn to JFK, Jr. from what I had read over the years. Sure, he was American Royalty. Sure, he was a Kennedy and debilitatingly handsome. It was witnessed by his friends that women and men would lose I.Q points the closer they came into his presence. “By the time they were close enough to speak with him, they would literally just mumble” says one of his closest confidants.

Last night, I watched the documentary on JFK Jr. as his friends weighed in heavily about the man behind the tabloid fodder.

John Perry Barlow, songwriter for The Grateful Dead remembers receiving a call one night from John. John said, ” You know I’ve been reading a lot of autobiographies on great men all throughout our history but not one of them was a good man at home.” I want to be a good man to my wife and to my sister.” ” My father was no model.”

He went on to say, ” I wonder if it wouldn’t be more of an interesting challenge to be a good man in private instead of a “great” man in public?”  “This is paramount in my life”, John said.

People treated John like a thing because he was born with success. Most people go after success for one of three reasons, money, power, and fame. John had all 3 the day he was born. He didn’t aspire to be what other people wanted him to be. He aspired to walk his own path.

It’s hard for people to maintain their goodness when they are being treated like a thing but John did. He protected his integrity those closest all attested. He walked the walk.

When Carolyn, his soon to be wife came into his life, sparks flew. Carolyn was funny and engaging ( when she felt safe). John was enchanted with her, body and soul from the moment he met her, They had a really intense passion that manifested in loving each other but also in unbelievable fights, says friend Chris Oberdeck.

Carolyn kept John grounded and he in turn wanted to protect her from the insanity of that which was his life. They very much complimented each other. However, she never was able to adjust to the scrutiny of others that often played out in the media as well as in person.

She was not prepared for life as the wife of John F. Kennedy Jr. Carolyn liked her quiet existence.

“People realize that one’s private moments are best kept private”- JFK, Jr. 

Friends speculated when their plane went missing, that they had just decided to leave the fishbowl existence for a life incognito. Unfortunately, that was not the case for America’s sweethearts.

“John’s head and his heart were definitely in the right place at the time of his death say John Perry Barlow. Would such characteristics make headlines today? Probably not.

 

 

 

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