COLUMN: A Malat Musing: The Boy Who Mattered

Created: 10/24/2012 11:37 AM KSTP.com By: Phil Malat

The Catholic lad of twelve usually had two choices for attending Sunday mass.  One was to arise at the most convenient hour and walk up the street to St. Charles Borromeo. 

The second required rising much earlier to go with his father to St. Olaf in downtown Minneapolis.   To this day he is uncertain as to why he decided to forgo his beauty sleep and attend church with his father on that fateful Sunday of October 2, 1960.  Perhaps it was the breakfast with dad at the Normandy Kitchen which was customary after mass. 

As the congregation was waiting for the service to begin the boy’s father tapped the boy and motioned with his head for the boy to look to his left.  The boy looked left and across the aisle.  Startled and exuberant at what he saw, the boy exclaimed, in a whisper that could be heard through the entire church; “IT’S KENNEDY!”  The boy next noticed that everyone around him was smiling or engaged in soft laughter as the father cautioned silently for restraint.  But the boy couldn’t resist one more look.  As he did so, the future president looked right into the boy’s eyes and gave him a big Kennedy smile.

We were devout Catholics and, therefore, like most other Catholics in the country, passionate Kennedy supporters.  He had a real shot at ending the discrimination and bigotry that had so long denied a Catholic access to the oval office.  He was the best we had ever offered to the country and prayed for his victory.  Our prayers were answered.

Malcolm Forbes wrote; “People who matter are most aware that everyone else does, too.”  To the man who would be president that 12-year-old boy mattered.  That gift of caring, on that October Sunday in 1960, made that day one of the most precious days in the boys life.

Phil Malat is a columnist for KSTP.com.