FAMILY TRAGEDY STRIKES A CHORD.
Susan Butterfield still had the feeling of a bad dream that wouldn't end Sunday as she arrived at church thinking about the news of John F. Kennedy Jr.
``It's so jarring, so unexpected. . . . You think, Again? Again? I mean that poor family,'' said Butterfield of Topanga Canyon as she headed to St. Mel Catholic Church.
Like thousands of others around the world, she grappled with the news as if Kennedy were a brother, a son, a loved one.
The Rev. Ramon Valera said so many concerned parishioners at St. Mel approached him about Kennedy on Sunday that he included a special prayer in the services.
``John has been a very good person and has tried his best to project his goodness to other people,'' said Valera, who noted that the Kennedys were loved by people in his native country of the Philippines as much as in the United States.
That the Kennedy tragedy touched so many was no surprise to Drew Yellen, a clinical psychologist whose clients talked about it over the weekend.
``We all like to have heroes, we all like to have princes and princesses that we believe in for a fairy tale, and John F. Kennedy Jr. filled that slot,'' Yellen said.
Dr. Allen Chroman, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, agreed that ``John-John,'' as he was known to the world, represented the Kennedy legacy, the hope, the next in line.
``He is very much an icon of our generation,'' Chroman said. ``The picture of him saluting the flag and saluting at his father's funeral is one of the pictures of the century. It's one of those things that helps us identify who we are.''
At Yellen's Northridge practice, many of his clients likened the Kennedy disappearance to the loss of Princess Diana.
``A lot of people mentioned the similarities - that you have somebody who is that much in the public eye and is that much loved by the public and then tragically disappears,'' Yellen said.
Yellen predicted that the apparent loss of Kennedy would inspire others to change, as death often leads people to honor the dead by living out their values and priorities.
``(Kennedy) did things right. He was untarnished. . . . He really set himself up as a role model,'' Yellen said. ``A lot of times when there's a tragedy like this, people say, we need to step up and take that place.''
As soon as Ingrid Jackson heard the news, she had the rosary and healing groups at St. Mel pray for Kennedy, his wife and sister-in-law.
``To us, (Kennedy) was like royalty for the United States,'' said Jackson, eucharistic minister at St. Mel. ``It's so tragic. He did so much work on this Earth at 38 years than most people do in a lifetime.''
Jackson said the healing group prayed that search teams would find Kennedy and then prayed for a miracle when they heard that luggage and pieces of wreckage had been found.
``(Kennedy) was an important representative of our country because he's the president's son, so of course we all feel the tragedy,'' Jackson said.
Chroman believes the Kennedys symbolized Hollywood's flash and glamour, but they also had more than their share of tragedy.
``They are us,'' Chroman said. ``There is a feeling of greatness in the family and the feeling of vulnerability. There is a feeling of greatness in our country, but also the feeling of risk and vulnerability.''
Yellen believes that part of the public's affinity for John John was rooted in an affinity for his charismatic father, who as the youngest U.S. president was able to connect with the younger population.
For those who lived through the Kennedy assassination that fateful day in Texas and watched as son saluted father, their bond to John F. Kennedy Jr. has only strengthened through the years as they've watched him evolve, Yellen said. ``Regrettably, I think people have become used to the idea that some type of trauma is going to befall the Kennedys. They really do, simply by nature of the fact that it's happened over and over,'' Yellen said. ``It's not often that a family has a second chance at Camelot, and here John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn were on that path to that and again struck by tragedy.''
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jul 19, 1999|
|Previous Article:||JFK JR., DIANA FOREVER IN PRIME.|
|Next Article:||ABANDONING BELMONT COULD COST $100 MILLION.|