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Reflections on a Tragedy

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After the disappearance of John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane off Martha's Vineyard last weekend, a wire service story listed the names of other celebrities who died in plane crashes. It began with Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne in 1931 and ended with John Denver, killed in '97 while flying his experimental plane off the California coast.

The list is long and disheartening. Patsy Cline, Will Rogers, Glenn Miller, Ricky Nelson, Buddy Holly, Richard Valens, and Kathleen and Joseph Kennedy Jr.

When a public figure dies an early death, a little of the magic goes out of the world, doesn't it? And I don't think anyone feels better by hearing statistics about how safe air travel really is. These are the people who make life seem full of possibilities. When we lose them, we realize the fragility of our own lives and dreams.

Speculation will continue for a while about what happened to JFK Jr.'s plane in the murky night sky last week. This much is for sure: he, Carolyn, and Lauren join the pantheon of household names, stars who fell from the sky many years too soon.


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