One of the ways we can gauge the impact of events is through markers. Nov. 22 each year is a marker. Each year on this date I feel a wave of grief, knowing that it’s the day on which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I don’t imagine there’s a person of my generation who was not affected.
On 11/22 each year (what remarkable numbers the day has), I also have tremendously-fond memories. But this is the first year in which that event has been largely overwhelmed by what is actually happening. It’s the first year, for me, that so many people are actually matching JFK in their commitment to peace and freedom.
In a sense, many of us who lived through that era probably see what is happening now as simply picking up from where we left off. The marches on Berkeley are now occupying Davis, the protest at the Chicago Democratic Convention is now a sit-in at a state legislature, the rallies at banks are now the occupation of Wall Street, and so on. But the outcome promises to be more than we ever dreamed of back then and truly honors JFK’s over-arching vision.
His death was the shattering of a dream – the dream of emergence from the rule of old men in baggy suits and doctrinal slogans. Question authority, we would have said then. Think globally and act locally. Make love, not war.
I was at the time president of my high school in Vancouver and had a pass to get out of class when I needed to. And I needed to get out of class then. I went down to the school office and upbraided the vice-principal because the flag had only been lowered a few feet (he told me that was half-mast).
The principal gave a message over the PA, I was asked to read the 23rd Psalm: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” And school was dismissed.
We watched all the subsequent events at home over TV for the rest of the day.
Instead of Nikolai Kruschchev, the Hero of Stalingrad, banging his shoe on his U.N. desk, instead of Dwight Eisenhower speaking as if he were issuing orders, we had a leader in the free world who looked dapper, sounded present, and put forth a hopeful, personal, peaceful vision of a “New Frontier.”
Granted he was one of the 1% and had all the advantages of a wealthy upbringing, he and his wife Jackie were very much our Arthur and Guinevere and his home was Camelot. All was right with the world as long as we could hear words from JFK. He showed himself wise, courageous and compassionate.
There were funny moments, such as when JFK called himself a donut. He said “Ich bin ein Berliner,” which I’m told means I’m a jelly donut, which amused Berliners and endeared him to them.
His young son, John John, would usually pop any balloon of vanity that a visiting dignitary might have by running headlong into a setting and crashing into people.
JFK’s creation of the space mission to the Moon brought us into a new age and has since served as a model of how to create a large-scale project, lift a nation’s sights, and inspire people in the direction of common endeavor. He never lived to see it corrupted by Earth landings standing in for the Moon.
Somehow I fancy that he would never have allowed that. After all, he was poised to close the Federal Reserve and the CIA and disclose the presence of extraterrestrials. Even Clinton and Obama have not been able to swing that and CIA Director William Casey and many others have also been assassinated for trying.
In subsequent years we’ve heard more of what really happened that day – that some very famous shooters hit him from under the bushes on the grassy knoll (people who went on to be rewarded with high military positions), that his own Secret Service driver William Greer delivered the coup de grace, that, among others, that the Office of Naval Intelligence and the CIA orchestrated the assassination.
We’ve even learned that young CIA agent George H.W. Bush was photoed standing outside the Texas Book Depository on that day. What was the CIA doing in Dallas on that day? We’re beginning to hear about LBJ’s role. What was Bush’s role in it?
We also learned that the Soviets were so eager to enact a strategic arms limitation agreement because they, by 1962, had an operational free-energy weapon. If the U.S. had disarmed, that would have left the Soviet Union with an absolute balance of power.
Gone with Kennedy were the times of transparency and integrity. In his place came the same corrupt characters whose ilk linger around today. The “suits” had won.
Not only Kennedy was taken down but the whole Flower-Children generation eventually was taken down, the women’s movement, civil rights, native rights, and everything else with him.
The perpetrators of Vietnam went on to perpetrate one war after another and topple one democratic government after another … until now.
I’d be happy if JFK came back with the Masters. I’ve missed him since the day he died. And I have much to thank him for. Back then I thought we die and stay dead, but that belief has been overcome. I now know that he went on, though I haven’t heard what he’s been up to. But I now know that he can hear me and all I need to really do is address him.
So, JFK, you widened my horizons like no one else in my recollection ever did. I felt a personal connection to you and I acknowledge your bravery in trying to actually correct some of the evils in the world. In a sense they overcame you in the end, but I can assure you that we are finishing the work you started.