Much has happened in the five decades sine our national innocence was lost. Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement, Watergate, the energy crisis, the rise of unrestricted corporate practices, unchecked capitalist expansion, exporting our American jobs overseas, the working poor, the increasing American intrusion into foreign theaters of war based on preemptive strike, torture doctrines, alarming environmental degradation, risky bank schemes that wrecked our housing market, educational declines, and the resulting brutal beating on our collective psyche.
It is like what the late, great Hunter S Thompson wrote in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:
"History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of 'history' it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time -- and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
"There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.
"And that, I think, was the handle -- that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting -- on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.- Advertisement -
"So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark -- that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."
Over the next few days the news media will focus on the conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy's assassination. That seems to sum up most of the headlines as the anniversary approaches.
But that the singular tragic event that snapped our nation in half -- as we would forever view our national history in terms of the time before Kennedy's assignation, and the time after; has deeper implications. The "how" may still be a debatable fascination, but the emotional aftermath, the "why," has a much more profound impact.
As Thompson would imply, the wave broke and receded on that terrible day, and our ideals and hopes and dreams of what America could have been washed away with it. As the remaining years in the 1960's grew increasingly violent and tumultuous, with so much racial hatred and so many body bags from our your servicemen in Vietnam, it was hard t remain optimistic about the future JFK spoke about and believed in so earnestly. The other two assassinations -- his brother Bobby and then Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- that quickly followed underscored the growing sense that the dream had died. We would never be the same.
We will talk about the time before and after on the program tonight. In the meantime, here is a good read from Charita Goshray on the impact we still feel today:
"Some critics have described the 50th-anniversary commemorations of President John F. Kennedy's assassination as yet another example of self-absorbed baby boomers refusing to relinquish the spotlight.- Advertisement -
"They regard the cascade of books, TV specials and analyses as just more maudlin naval-gazing by an overweening generation that can't fade away soon enough.
"If you have no recollection of Nov. 22, 1963, it's almost impossible to explain why it still resonates and reverberates, and how it has changed our American story.
"Perhaps it's simply the way of time. Fifty years from now, it will be difficult to convey to those born after Sept. 11, 2001, why it was so significant. How life before that day was so different. How it changed everything.
"ONE BROKEN THREAD
"The gift -- and curse -- of recorded history is that it can crystallize and immortalize a moment.