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A courtier of Camelot

By Debra Dobbins

The “lead” (opening sentence) of this article is eloquent (strikingly expressive). It also requires some background knowledge. What’s a courtier? And where’s Camelot?

A courtier is someone who devotes himself to the needs of a king or another ruler. Camelot was a mythical palace overseen by England’s legendary King Arthur. King Arthur was a much-loved ruler who came up with the idea of the Round Table, a more democratic way of decision-making. His story was popularized by the Broadway play “Camelot,” a musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.

The term Camelot came to refer to the short but legendary presidency of John F. Kennedy, often just called JFK. Holding office for fewer than three years, Kennedy was felled by an assassin’s bullet Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. The death of our 35th president sent shock waves throughout the nation. People 60 or older most likely remember exactly where they were the day JFK was shot.

Kennedy’s presidency was marked by an optimistic glow. Despite the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban missile crisis, many Americans felt that the country was in a golden age similar to that of Arthurian times. Significantly aiding that impression was Kennedy’s elegant wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. It was almost as if she were America’s “Queen Guinevere.”

A few weeks after JFK died, his widow told a Life magazine interviewer ”there will never be that Camelot again."

Translated into modern terms, then, the lead could begin as “Of the loyal aides to the president.”

Theodore C. Sorensen witnessed much of America’s Camelot. The rest of the article on this loyal aide appears in our print and/or e-editions.


John F. Kennedy speaking at Rice University
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy

Photo courtesy of Wikiquote


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