Letter: Not to be Forgotten

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Letter to the Editor

I had a chance to go back in time when I watched the live stream of CBS News’ coverage of the assassination of President Kennedy, which played on the Internet in real time over four days, just as it had been broadcast the first time in 1963. 

To tune into what is now called “breaking news” and be able to have Uncle Walter there to tell you everything you needed to know felt like going home again. 

I didn’t catch every part of the 55 hours of coverage, but I viewed the segments I had missed and found something that I am sure will be a surprise to many. On the night of the assassination, Nov. 22, CBS ended its 10-hour broadcast by switching to correspondent Charles Kuralt. Kuralt, inside the Our Lady Chapel in downtown Los Angeles, introduced a mass being celebrated by Father John Sheridan. 

As I could not match the face on the 50-year-old video with the available photographs of Sheridan taken in recent years, I consulted an archivist with the Los Angeles Archdiocese who confirmed there was only one priest with the name Sheridan and he was assigned to that Chapel in 1963. 

This would not have attracted much local notice among his future parishioners two years before he came to Malibu, but Sheridan had briefly occupied the national stage, putting a coda on one of our nation’s darkest days, on what would then become (and would long remain) the highest rated network newscast in the country. 

Sheridan was in illustrious company, for there were just four religious services covered by CBS on that sad, extended weekend. This historical vignette has apparently been forgotten, for there was no mention of it in the late Sheridan’s obituary, yet he deserves recognition, even if it has to be belated, for a prominent part he played in one of the few events seared forever in our memory. 

B. Harlan Field