(Image by AK Rockefeller) Details DMCA
I wonder what associations people have with the presidency of JFK today--those born well after his violent murder?
Younger people I converse with aren't too interested in life during the sixties, as revolutionary as it was. Issues today are harrowing, certainly.
But I was barely an adolescent when JFK was elected and what was new to me was the glamor of a president and his family--paparazzi fodder certainly; we followed their lives eagerly, devouring details at the human-interest level: Caroline's life that every little girl wanted and Jacqueline's glamor and her ideal marriage to the handsome knight" The adorable little boy playing in Daddy's office.
The media have dissected the facts and served us some disappointing postscripts and certainly tragedies that have afflicted the extended family. But there was a sparkle to life between 1960 and 1963, a new future, a youth cult asking what can be done for the country: energy and optimism: Jackie charming Khrushchev, Khrushchev tantrumming when authorities determined that it was unsafe for him to visit Disneyland.
POTUSes receive such merciless criticism, This one was, for many, the exception.
JFK's visions antagonized too many adversaries. They got together--evidence for this mounts by the day and the research is huge and convincing--and executed the abomination. And, some say, similar cadres of opposition did away with other icons who might have kept JFK's vision alive and more potent during subsequent decades: RFK, MLK, Malcolm X, and others.
Among those of us devastated by JFK's death, a renaissance rescued some. At the risk of seeming irreverent, I have to say that the Beatles revitalized youth and in many ways passed on JFK's torch just as LBJ, whom some implicate in the assassination, perpetrated his values by sponsoring the Great Society and civil rights legislation. The Beatles kept the fire lighted, which was amplified by youth's opposition to the Vietnam war and then the fervor of the hippies' massive rebellion against traditions, fire fueled by the subsequent assassinations.
Kids in college trying to export the idealism they were learning in class to the outside world in the form of human rights movements comprised a dream that has persisted, diluted and vigorously embattled. That opposition, of course, took shape during the Nixon administration, with the Powell Manifesto a towering signpost igniting a battle the right has waged against the left, teetering on victory we are praying away and doing our best to counteract.
And so today I recall that moment when our maid, a civil rights activist, came running down the front steps of our house as our car pulled up, crying "The president has been shot! The president has been shot!"
Something died besides JFK and "Camelot." Or was it Camelot? The battle to undo November 22 and return the government to We the People drags on.