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“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Thursday, November 22, 2007
    JFK Anniversary

    The news today made much of the fact that this year Thanksgiving falls on the forty-fourth anniversary of the JFK assassination. I brought the subject up over Thanksgiving dinner at V.'s. V. was in second grade at the time and has a vivid mental picture of the entire afternoon; she still remembers little details like the coat hooks in the cloakroom where the students were sent to pick up their coats (their school let out early that day after the news broke).

    I have no memories of the event myself, as I was born four days afterward, but my parents have told me their recollections of the weekend. My mother was in the hospital with a bad case of preeclampsia and my father was in the hospital too (it was a teaching hospital, and I was born during his internship year). My dad has always been a gizmo kind of guy, and this was in the days before hospital rooms had televisions in them, so he hooked up a little black-and-white TV in my mother's room. She said nurses were constantly popping into her room to catch events as they developed (I imagine her room was packed when Jack Ruby gunned down Oswald).

    I remember the twenty-fifth anniversary of the assassination, as I was in medical school at the time and we had a special presentation in pathology class which was based on a published article from the pathologist in the Dallas hospital where Kennedy was taken for his resuscitation effort. At least, I think that's who he was - I have been searching my files and cannot find my copy of the article, so apologies if I got it wrong. His reconstruction of the injuries, leading to his conclusion that there was no conspiracy and that Oswald really did act alone, was incredibly interesting.

    Next year will be Year 45 and I anticipate there will be more media stories about JFK than we got this year. It's odd to view this more as a personal milestone than a national event - but I think perhaps that always happens when a birthday coincides with a major happening. Imagine being born on or around December 7, 1941, for instance.




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