TAMPA — Charlie Miranda was 23, driving a delivery truck in Ybor City when he learned President John F. Kennedy had been shot.
“I remember a lady on the second balcony saying ‘they killed my president,’” Miranda, today the chairman of Tampa City Council, told a gathering in Lykes Gaslight Park Friday afternoon as the city marked the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s 1963 visit to Tampa.
The president spent the day in Tampa on Nov. 18 before traveling on to Fort Worth and Dallas. He was assassinated Nov. 22 as his motorcade traveled through Dallas’ Dealey Plaza.
Former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco, first elected three years after Kennedy’s assassination, reminded the audience that Kennedy’s death united the country.
“Everyone was crying,” Greco said. “I never heard one derogatory word – ‘oh, he’s a Republican, he’s a Democrat’. Nobody gave a damn. He was the president of the United States and he commanded respect. A fine man with a fine family that everybody could relate to.”
That’s not the case any more, Greco said.
“Politics today is not what it was 50 years ago. Everybody’s arguing with each other,” Greco said. “Somehow they’ve forgotten what this man knew. We’re all in the same boat: black, white, rich, poor, gay, whatever. If it sinks, everybody dies.”
Greco and Miranda joined Tampa City Council members Yvonne Yolie Capin and Harry Cohen to unveil a historic marker at the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Franklin Street commemorating Kennedy’s visit, the first visit to Tampa by a sitting president.
“He gave us hope, for those that had very little,” Miranda said. “That marker will be significant not just for me, but for anyone who comes here.”