I first became aware of Secret Service Agent Clint Hill from an interview he gave Mike Wallace on '60 Minutes' many, many years ago. He had been part of the security detail that had accompanied President and Mrs. Kennedy to Texas in November 1963. What's more: Hill was one of the Secret Service agents who had been directly behind the presidential limousine in the accompanying vehicle the moment the first shot rang out in Dallas. He then ran toward the presidential limousine in what proved to be a vain attempt to protect President Kennedy. He had reached for the handhold of the limousine as the third, fatal shot struck the President, and his suit was sprayed with the President's blood, brain matter, and shattered bone fragments. None of these details I knew at the time of the '60 Minutes' interview. But the agony I saw in Mr. Hill's face as he related to Mike Wallace what he saw and experienced that horrible day, made me feel so, so terrible for him. It was clear that this tragic event had tormented him for the rest of his life.
So, when I learned that he had written a book, "MRS. KENNEDY AND ME", about his Secret Service experiences during the Kennedy Administration, I was keen to read it. And I'm so glad that I did. I learned that shortly after time of JFK's election as President in November 1960, Agent Hill had been assigned to the security detail for Mrs. Kennedy. He wasn't eager at first to take on the assignment, for he had hoped he would be named to the President's Detail (which he had been a part of under President Eisenhower). But he quickly adjusted to being assigned to protecting Mrs. Kennedy with whom he developed a close, cordial, and respectful relationship over the 3 years he protected and accompanied her on trips to places as diverse as Paris, Greece, Pakistan, India, Italy, Mexico, Venezuela, and Morocco (as well as to Hyannis Port, where the Kennedys spent their summers, and to the Kennedy residence in Palm Beach in the wintertime).
It's rare to read a book that sets out to recapture a spirit and ethos of an earlier time and succeeds. And that was what I experienced in reading "MRS. KENNEDY AND ME." I felt like I was there, a part of the "Kennedy mystique" in which these 2 incredible people -- President and Mrs. Kennedy -- inspired a nation to look deep within itself and embrace the better angels of its character and live out the true meaning of the words as enshrined in the Constitution: "to form a more perfect Union."