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Monday, November 18, 2013

A Moment In Time

  This week, America will mark the 50th anniversary of one of the darkest days in our history. Fifty years ago, to the day, John F. Kennedy, thirty fifth President of the United States, was assassinated. That Friday started out dark and rainy, but by late morning, the clouds had given way to a sunny fall day in Dallas. Kennedy was in Texas to bring together two factions of the Democratic Party. Liberal and Conservative Democrats alike had to at least give the impression of unity in order to snag the large number of electoral votes that Texas had to offer in 1964's presidential election.
  The whole world it seemed, had fallen in love with America's first couple. Jack Kennedy was young, good looking and, despite many who thought him too inexperienced, exuded the capability needed to lead one of the world's superpowers. Jackie Kennedy was one of the most glamorous first ladies the nation had seen in quite a while. She was beautiful, spoke several languages, and was always the height of fashion. As soon as Jackie was wearing it, every woman in America was wearing it.
  Those who were there on that awful day, know exactly where they were, and what they were doing. It would be another year and three months before this Blogger would make her debut, but from my husband, then a second grader who remembered the announcement coming over the public address system at his elementary school in the small town of Warrenton Missouri, to my mother, a young wife, who was busy with housework when CBS News, and a visibly shaken Walter Cronkite, broke into daytime programming with the first terrible sketchy reports.
  So many things began that day with the end of John Kennedy's life, and the end of "Camelot". The murder of a sitting President should have been a case with no mistakes, no stone left unturned, nothing left to chance. But in the fifty years since, it has become one of the most talked about murders, and possible conspiracy theories in American history. The Warren Commission, now looked at as just another government farce, wanted the public to believe that a drifter named Lee Harvey Oswald, a guy who had serious Marxist tendencies, had lived in the Soviet Union, brought home a Russian wife, and had a hard time keeping a job, had single handedly pulled off the crime of the century. Had he acted alone? Was  it the Russians? The Cubans? The Mob?
  But the events of that day go so much deeper. For many Americans, they can almost divide American history into pre-Kennedy and post-Kennedy eras. That day ushered in a new mentality, and it wounded the American psyche in ways that have never been able to be repaired. After Kennedy's death, the war in Vietnam escalated, and it brought out an ugliness in people. People who were quick to blame America, and looked to exaggerate each and every one of her flaws. The divide between Left and Right became wider, and the point at which words and actions crossed the line not only were pushed to the limits, but often became just plain unacceptable.
  What would John Kennedy think of the America that was born after his death? Many Conservatives  claim that Kennedy would be one of them today, citing his stance on tax cuts and the no nonsense way he dealt with the Soviet Union and Nikita Kruschev. But what would he think of the faction of Americans that are so quick to "blame America first"? The crowd who thinks that "fundamental transformation" is the best possible solution for a nation so unfair to 99% of its citizens? Would he scold them? Cheer them on? Or wonder what in God's name had become of a country he so obviously loved and gave his life for?
  John Kennedy, a man born of privilege, who could
 take advantage of everything America had to offer to a man of wealth and means, would most likely have this to say to the "blame America first" gang. Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.         

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