Friday, November 22, 2013

Fifty years and still mourning our loss.

Reflecting on November 22nd, 1963 and the assassination of our President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the loss of a nation… and of the world.
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Up until I was eight years old, life was a scattered recollection of emerging awareness of the world around me.  Then, while climbing the stairs to the second floor of John J. Audubon Elementary school in Chicago, Illinois - I overheard an older guy descending the stairs telling his friend: "Did you hear?  The President's been shot!"

The news meant something big, then and there.  That feeling was reinforced within the minute it took to complete my trek to the classroom.  The somber teacher, the being sent home early, the stunned walk home through a hushed neighborhood.  Then the look of my mother and the tears she could not hide when we got home. 

The following day we drove to my grandparents and spent the subsequent days in a vigil around their TV trying to absorb what had happened until our President was laid to rest.  It's the earliest period of my young life where I remember a sequence of many days.  Sort of a brutal slap in the face letting me know that the outside world does make a difference to my own little world.

You have to understand, my parents loved the Kennedy's, and radio and news had always been in our home.  More importantly for us kids, we had a copy of the hit comedy album "Vaughn Meader's The First Family"  {that never played again} and all of us found something to laugh about... plus, for us young kids, it was an introduction to many international Who's Who names of the day and weirdly helpful during Current Events lessons. 

The Kennedy's seemed like distant, but much loved uncles, aunts and cousins.  In hindsight, it felt like they offered my immigrant family a real sense of inclusion and hope that the future was not going to be a repeat of their ugly European history of endless conflict and wars.  The hope that society and the powers-that-be actually learned some lessons from the bloodbaths and wanton waste of WWI and WWII...  but we shall never know.

Although a child and unaware, I had caught the buzz of our parents that things were looking good under the Kennedy Administration.  Beyond my limited awareness of the time, I now know that things were looking good and a new generation was indeed taking the reins of power and steering a course guided by a more hopeful and thoughtful approach to addressing issues.  One that offered an opportunity to constructively learn from mistakes and move forward based on an acceptance that other experiences and voices deserve to be listened to and taken into account.

But, then a half century ago today America's "New Generation" had their grip on the "reins of power" obliterated by a couple bullets shot in Dallas, Texas.  Ironically, history shows it was thus that Texas oil money, plus other traditional "military industrial complex" types thoroughly regained the 'field of power' and the rest is history, as they say.   

We shall never know what may have been - but a review of what has been, reveals a pathetic history of unnecessarily self-destructive adventures and betrayal of our fundamental principles, mistake upon mistake that have enriched a few, but cost our nation and we regular citizens dearly.  Consider the legacy as reflected in the sales of weapons of mass destruction - it's about the only growth industry happening.

Or, look at the manmade Global Warming dialogue where instead of a serious collective learning process, it has been reduced to a PR circus of misrepresentations, slander and stonewalling within a political climate of faith-based absolutism and ruthless dirty tricks.

So as this evening's news segues from our fallen President 
{the man who was capable of recognizing and dealing with the world as it was, the man who was capable of admitting mistakes and learning from them, the man who wasn't afraid of constructively dealing with adversaries} back to our current dysfunctional Washington politicians, people who seem more interested in destroying political adversaries than in resolving any real world problems - 
I once again mourn the loss of a world that may have been.

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