Black Jack

I love watching the horses in the rebroadcasts of the various processions connected with JFK’s funeral — the calm and patient white ones that drew the caisson, and Black Jack, with the empty saddle and boots reversed in the stirrups, who couldn’t keep still. He was having none of the solemnity. “I’m alive!” he kept saying. “I’m alive!”

Black Jack was never an easy horse to deal with — he was chosen for funerals because he was so handsome. The soldier who handled him in the Kennedy processions deserved a medal for keeping him from bolting, all the while maintaining his own self-possession and dignity.

Black Jack delivered a subliminal message of vitality and high spirits that would not have been appropriate for any human mourner in the proceedings — but it was an essential message, a message of hope. He represented Kennedy’s spirit in a doleful time.