By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — For most of his life the legacy of President John F. Kennedy has been a part of Tom Broderick Jr.’s memories.
Broderick’s father, Tom, was Kennedy’s campaign chairman during the primary and general election of 1960, the year Kennedy defeated Republican Richard Nixon for the presidency.
During that campaign, Kennedy made stops in Pendleton, Anderson, and a farm in Lafayette Township with a large rally at Beulah Park in Alexandria.
For more than four decades a picture of Tom Broderick and Rosemary Lockwood with John Kennedy sits above a fireplace in the family home.
“That picture keeps the memory alive in our family,” Broderick said.
Former Madison County Democratic Party Chairman Bud Wood remembers that Kennedy spoke from the east steps of the old Madison County courthouse to a huge crowd of people.
“He shook hands with a lot of people,” Wood said. “I got to shake his hand.”
On Nov. 22, 1963, Broderick was a fifth-grade student in choir when the loud speaker came on and the principal said that Kennedy had been shot.
“There was complete silence,” he recalled of the choir room. “The teacher was upset.”
Broderick said when he got home he can remember his grandmother crying and that his parents were very upset.
“Kennedy was an influence on our family,” he said. “My dad said he was a common man, nice and outgoing. He had an impact on our family.”
Wood was working for the Anderson Fire Department in 1963 at Station 4 when word of Kennedy’s shooting came over the radio.
“It felt like it was the end of the world,” he said. “Everyone was in shock.”
Broderick said Kennedy’s legacy is of what he believed and his youthful vigor.
He said Kennedy was much younger than the previous two presidents, Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman.
“Kennedy had a vision of youth and promise,” Broderick said. “He inspired real hope and safety in the future for all Americans.”
Broderick said Kennedy had a confidence and lots of energy with his presidency that was translated to the American people.
“I was just thinking about his short presidency and the impact it had,” he said. “It was far beyond what it might have been if he served out two terms.”
Broderick said the lasting impression will be Kennedy’s push in the early 1960s in the area of civil rights.
“He knew it was going to take a lot of political pressure, particularly with the Southern Democrats,” Broderick said. “Discrimination was vast and bad in the nation. It was the right thing to do.”
Wood said Kennedy wasn’t in the White House long enough to get a lot of things done during his less than three years as president.
“He was a good president,” he said. “He didn’t have the opportunity to be a great president. He didn’t have time to accomplish a great deal.”
Wood said Kennedy is remembered for starting the push for the passage of civil rights legislation and the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
Follow Ken de la Bastide @KendelaBastide on Twitter, or call 640-4863.