Friday, November 22, 2013

Fifty Years Ago Today

It changed America's spirit.

It changed politics.

It changed history.  

It helped turn television into America's leading source for news and information.

And, made for a somber Thanksgiving and a somber Christmas.

On what turned out to be a sunny day in Dallas, TX, one of three bullets fired from the Texas Book Depository ended a history-making presidency one thousand days after that tenure began.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the youngest ever elected to the most talked-about political job there is (he was 43 years and almost six months old when elected on 11-2-1960), the first Roman Catholic person to get the job, and, as things turned out...the last standing US senator to win a presidential election in this country during the 20th Century.

And the fourth (and most recent chief executive) gunned down by an assassin.

I'd turned eight years of age eleven days earlier. And I was one of the millions of Americans who cried when it happened. 

Yep, I was born during the Dwight Eisenhower years...but I barely remember living through Ike's second term. Compared to memories of Eisenhower's last four years as commander in chief, I've got more memories of JFK's abbreviated term of office.

And those memories include his inaugural speech, his handling of the Cuban missile crisis, a nuclear test-ban treaty signed during the JFK years, America finally getting its space program rolling (okay, flying), the creation of the Peace Corps, and Kennedy's stand on civil rights. 

It took Joseph's and Rose's second son a good while to get hip to the message that advancing freedom all over the world (a message the 35th President brought out in his inaugural address) also means advancing freedom right here in these fifty states.

But after 250,000 assembled in front of the Lincoln Memorial on 8-28-1963, that did it.

And those Southern Democrats Kennedy spent most of 1960 trying to woo in order to take the White House back from the Republicans were just going to have to get hip, too.

Almost a week ago, someone from the Associated Press turned in an article talking about the speech JFK gave in response to the 1963 March on Washington. (The AP article made it to this past Monday's Omaha World-Herald, and that's where I saw the report.) 

One thing the article's author put in really struck me. It was the observation that, in lots of American homes during the bulk of the 1960s, you'd find pictures of three prominent people: Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King Jr., and...John F. Kennedy. 

Three symbols of hope.

Three symbols who ended up brutally murdered.

And these three symbols were killed before any of them could reach the age of fifty.     

When Kennedy took a bullet from Lee Harvey Oswald, it began the demise of America's famous "can-do" spirit. 

Don't think so? 

Think about all the talk about health-care reform...and about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Think about all the talk surrounding whether immigration reform should take place here in the United States. Think about what's being said as to whether effective gun-control laws can ever get passed here. And now we talk about whether we should see to it that all of our country's children get a decent education...rather than how. 

One thing's for sure: Oswald's act (no, I'm not into conspiracy theories...especially about just how Bobby's and Ted's and Joseph the Younger's brother died) led to the 1965 proposal of the Constitution's 25th amendment that finally got ratified on 2-10-1967.

When Lyndon Johnson moved up to the presidency this afternoon in 1963, the nation went without a vice president...until LBJ's 1964 runningmate, Hubert Humphrey, became America's second-in-command on 1-20-1965.

Never again would America's government run sans a vice president.    

I've been going on YouTube to check out how ABC, CBS, and NBC (as well as WFAA-TV, the ABC station in the Metroplex) covered the events of 11-22-1963. 

Words such as "disbelief," "anger," "sadness," and "indignation" were reported to have come out of so many people's mouths that day.

Some of the mouths belonged to key government officials.

Speaking of key government officials...some of today's government officials would absolutely love to see the next US senator to have won the White House (that's right, the man in there now, Barack Obama) removed from the White House.

And at least one big-name hate-radio ( radio) host would love to see Obama (a US senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008) gunned down. 

Really we HAVE to go through this again, with another history-making chief executive?  

Haven't we learned anything from the events that took place fifty years ago today?