Saturday, November 22, 2008

where were you forty five years ago today?

it's one of those iconic occurences that freeze us in time.

on this day in 1963 the young and charismatic president john f. kennedy was assassinated...and many say this nation's innocence was murdered along with him.

one thing is undeniably true; if you are old enough to remember that day, you no doubt have a sickening sense of deja vu when you think of it...

myself, i was a nine year old playing football in the schoolyard of our little stucco schoolhouse on the shore of lake okeechobee , waiting for the bus to take us home three miles out u.s. 98 among the sugar cane fields, when the word spread that the president had been shot; we didn't know until walter cronkite told us that evening in fuzzy black-and-white that he had died.

we kids didn't really know much about the politics of the day of course, but thinking of it now still brings an odd snapshot image back to me of that sunny play yard and a sense that the happy and carefree childhood that we were enjoying one moment was gone the next.

would history have taken a different course if kennedy had not been killed that day? would the events that were hurtling us deeper into a war in some tiny God forsaken place that none of us had heard of, but quite a few of us would soon find ourselves in -with some of us never to return- have been altered under his guidance? the powder keg of unrest, the uprising on our campuses, racial war and rioting in the streets...would it have been the same if jfk had remained at the helm of our ship of state?

my own sense is that history holds him in a frozen reverence that would not have been possible had he lived and found himself forced to deal with those issues of the era; the world was in upheaval and exploding all around us, perhaps speeded along by the shooting, but inevitable would have been more than the legacy of any president, no matter how powerfully inspirational, could endure.

but we will never know.



Anonymous said...

I was 14 years old. Getting over a cold, well enough to be up and about and dressed but not well enough to go back to school. The appliance repairman was due to come and fix the stove. He arrived and said "did you hear about the president? He got shot!" I said I didn't believe it. He went back to his van and got out a little radio and turned it on. The very first words which came out of it were "the death of the president." He shut it right off and said "now do you believe me?" I did!

Anonymous said...

I was at a 7th birthday party for the girl 2 doors down. Came home and Mom had the TV news on.