Friday, November 22, 2013

President John F. Kennedy

The number of remembrances - on television, in print, and on other forms of media - of President John F. Kennedy's assassination has resulted in an almost equal number of media pieces expressing a combination of disbelief and disdain that the nation (and in particular, the baby boomer generation) can't seem to get over that traumatic day, now 50 years ago.

I have no problem categorically rejecting that level of cynicism, which to me says more about the persons writing such hit pieces than it does about the ongoing level of interest (and in some cases, despair) over that awful day.  Essentially, those pieces are saying that the feelings of those who still mourn the events of that day are invalid, that those feelings represent nothing more than misguided nostalgia for an era that never really existed, except in the minds of Madison Ave. marketing gurus, in the first place.

I was 3 years old on that day, and it is my first conscious memory.  When your mother cries all day and can't explain why in terms that a 3-year old would understand, that tends to stick with you.  And stick with me it has.  I look at the old papers my parents saved, I read the issues of LIFE Magazine, I look at the photos of that day, I see the Zapruder film - and even now, a sense of what I can only describe as dread comes over me, almost overwhelming in its power.  I can only imagine how much stronger it feels for someone who was old enough to understand and appreciate the gravity of what was occurring.

One's opinion of President Kennedy, either as a President or as a man, is irrelevant.  That was an awful day, one that I'm confident in saying scarred the psyche of an entire nation.  To discount that is simply not right.


"First examine our attitude towards peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable, that mankind is doomed, that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are man made; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings."

"For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal."

- American University Commencement Address, President John F. Kennedy, June 1963

1 comment:

Carol said...

I was in 7th grade in "Horrible Helsel"'s fifth period home economics class at John Marshall Junior High School in Pasadena. Miss Helsel couldn't stop crying. Every TV in every classroom was turned on. We all felt sick. Thanks for the post, Jeff. Insightful as always.