By Sharon Wisch-Ray
I was not quite sure what to expect when I was granted one of the eight press seats at the Fort Worth Chamber’s sold-out commemorative breakfast of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Fort Worth, where he gave his final speech at a Fort Worth Chamber breakfast before leaving for Dallas.
I had also been granted press credentials to the Dealy Plaza commemoration, but Fort Worth seemed like the right place to be. I knew I had to be there, given that my folks TJP Publishers and Editors Rene and Jimmy Wisch had attended the breakfast 50 years earlier.
Hopefully you had a chance to read Jimmy’s firsthand account of the goings on in Fort Worth that fateful day. The ballroom was packed, much like I imagined it was 50 years ago.
Former Speaker of the House Jim Wright, who will be 91 next month, was honored with the Chamber’s High Impact Legacy Award. A longtime friend of the Jewish community and Israel, Wright was also in the presidential entourage in November 1963. Though somewhat slowed in step, Wright’s wit and keen mind were as sharp as ever.
Clint Hill, the lone surviving Secret Service agent from the Kennedy detail, spoke about the five days leading up to and after JFK’s assassination. His first-hand account was chilling and emotional with a number of “back stories.”
For example, attendees learned that the reason “John John” was able to salute at his father’s funeral, was because the Secret Service team had been working with him throughout October and early November in preparation for his visit with the president to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Memorial Cemetery Nov. 11, 1963.
I’m certain that Mr. Hill’s book “Five Days in November,” which was released last week, is a fascinating read.
Veterans in their own words
War stories were bouncing around fast and furious at the “Daytimers” luncheon featuring veterans in their own words, and the words were flowing.
Bullets dodging around Ken Sherwin’s head during Vietnam.
George Sepp shepherding a B58 during the height of the Cold War.
And Marc Neerman’s stories of top secret interception of terrorists, even Israel’s destruction of the Syrian Nuclear facility.
Several guests commented that they would have liked to continue the program past the closing time.
These and many more exciting stories were introduced by Dr. Julian Haber, author of “They Were Soldiers in Peace and War,” who served as master of ceremonies for the panel.
All the veterans attending were recognized, with special recognition of the three World War II vets in attendance, Earl Givant, Dr. Irvin Robinson and Arnold Schectman.
Many of the veterans brought photos and memorabilia from their time in the service including flight suits, helmets and photographs.
Rosanne Margolis and Ethel Schectman greeted the guests at the door, Fanette Sonkin and Louis Schultz made sure everyone got the right lunch. Mary Frances Antweil did a great job as master of ceremonies, and former paratrooper Larry Steckler introduced the panel.
Trace your Jewish geneaology
The next event for the “Daytimers” will be a program on Jewish genealogy at noon, Wednesday, Dec. 11, at Beth-El Congregation. The program will feature Dr. Barry Lachman, medical director, Parkland Community Health Plan, who has done extensive research on his own family from Lithuania and Ukraine.
He will be able to identify many sources for us to look up our own families. If you Google “Barry Lachman genealogy” you will find the genealogy forum for the Lachman family.
Dr. Lachman graduated from Franklin and Marshall College and holds a medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine and a M.Ph. degree from the University of Washington. He serves as chairman of the Medical Management Committee of the Texas Asthma Coalition and has a faculty appointment at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.
Lunch will be catered by one of the group’s favorites, Boopa’s Bagel Deli, and guests have a choice of lox and cream cheese on an everything bagel, turkey and hummus on a sesame bagel or cream cheese and assorted veggies on a pumpernickel bagel. Cost is $9, or $5 for program only.
For information and reservations, call with your credit card to Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736, Larry Steckler, 520-990-3155, or Hugh Lamensdorf, 817-738-1428 or reserve for yourself at www.bethelfw.org/donations. The Sylvia Wolens “Daytimers” is a program of Beth-El Congregation with financial support from the Jewish Federation
News and Notes
• B’nai B’rith is in the process of updating information for the new community directory, which is scheduled to be out in early 2014. If you have moved or changed your phone number or email address, please send a message to Alex Nason at firstname.lastname@example.org with the updated correct information.
• PJ Library is “Lighting Up the Library” at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 1. at the Fort Worth Central Library, 500 W. Third St. in the Chappell Room for Chanukah songs, crafts and stories. RSVPs are not required, but are appreciated. Let the Federation know you’re coming by calling 817-569-0892.
• The Meditation Garden at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville needs some TLC.
Warm weather will return later in the week and Paul Kelly will lead the crew at 10 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 1. Bring your gardening tools and lend a hand to beautify and ready the garden for winter.
• The Ahavath Sholom Youth Choir will perform at “Connect with the Community” Dec. 5. at Casa Manana. This is a program of Mayor Betsy Price and the Mayor’s Faith Leaders Cabinet. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. and the program will follow at 6:30 p.m.