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Hail to Our Caesar

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            Fifty years ago on this day America became the next Rome.  Fifty years ago, America went from a republic to an empire.  Fifty years ago today, we killed our Caesar.  John Fitzgerald Kennedy was Julius Caesar for the history of the United States of America.  He wanted to give more to the underprivileged.  He was killed by his own government.  And after his death, his country embarked on creating an empire.  As Americans, what we need to realize now is the path we're are on, and how to get off of it, before we end up just like Rome.

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   Julius Caesar was popular with the plebeians (the lower class Romans).  The plebeians did not like him just because he was a military leader.  They liked him because his policies were doing something for them.  He was for land reform.  Land at the time was controlled by a powerful minority.  Caesar offered to give land from military conquests to the soldiers of Rome.  He also made land owners have to hire free men, as opposed to slaves, for a third of their farm hands.  He gave plebeians an opportunity to own land and to have jobs.  He also increased government posts, including the senate, by a third, in the hope that they would be occupied by plebeians.  These moves of course upset the rich, powerful patrician class.  JFK also wanted to give to those who needed it.  His domestic policy "The New Frontier" wanted to end racial discrimination.  It also included federal funding for the young and old, in education and medical care respectively.  Also toward the end of his presidency he decided U.S. involvement in Vietnam would be a waste of American lives for an unattainable goal.  Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara himself had said that if Kennedy had lived, the United States would not have entered Vietnam--even though many powerful institutions (defense contractors, oil prospectors) stood to make a lot of money off the war.   Kennedy, like Caesar, was for the little man, and put their interests above those of the rich and powerful.  Which is of course why those in power wanted to remove these beloved leaders from power, by any means necessary.   

   No one questions that the senate killed Julius Caesar.  A leader who the common people loved, was killed by the aristocrats in power for their own benefit.  JFK's assassination as a plot by the government cannot be accepted as a fact.  There is no smoking gun out there that proves without a doubt that the government was behind it.  However, there is more than enough evidence out there that casts doubt on the official report of the Warren Commission.  There are the witnesses in Dealey Plaza that attest that there was more than one shooter.  There is the timing of the three shots that makes it almost impossible that they all came from one Italian Carcano bolt action rifle with such accuracy.  There is the one pristine "magic bullet" that is to be believed passed through seven separate wounds between Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally.  There is also the House of Representatives Select Committee that in 1978 determined that Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy.  If his death was a conspiracy, who else could be behind it but elements within the government who need to have it covered up?  2000 years later if the government killed their leader they could not announce it like they did with Caesar.  They have learned from the fate of Brutus and Cassius.

   Caesar and JFK were both loved by their people.  They were probably both killed by factions within their own government.  Their deaths also marked the change in their respective nations.  It is agreed upon by historians that the death of Julius Caesar marked the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire.  Augustus Caesar--the grandnephew of Julius Caesar--became Rome's first emperor.  America has also become a subtle pseudo-empire in regards to its international relations since the death of Kennedy.  Months after Kennedy's death the Gulf of Tonkin Crisis occurred.  US ships fired first on North Vietnamese ships, but reported that the North Vietnamese attacked first.  Though Vietnam was never officially declared a war by congress, it became the longest conflict the nation was ever involved in--a span of ten years.  That record would be passed by the current war in Afghanistan.  We invaded Iraq on shaky evidence that has since been proven false.  The military industrial complex now controls our foreign policy.  Before Kennedy's death no one really questioned our involvement in any war (War of 1812, Mexican War, WWI and WWII).  Since his death every war has been questioned (Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan).  Like Caesar, Kennedy's death marked a change in the soul of his nation.  We must hope history does not continue to repeat itself.

   The start of the Roman Empire was also the beginning of the end for Rome.  Some of the issues that led to the fall of Rome are--loss of civic virtue, the weakening of the military, decline of loyalty to the government, wasting of resources, the debt of the lower classes, and political instability--are issues that affect the United States now.  Our military is being stretched to its limits with these constant wars.  The middle class is riddled with debt.  Politically our country is the most divided since the Civil War.  And we are not upholding the best of morals as a nation.  We cannot allow November 22nd 1963 to be the beginning of the end of our nation.  We must find our way back to the path we were on--the best republic in the world--before the death of our Caesar.   

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Drew D'Amato is the author of the novels Social Studies and Bloodlines. He also has a masters degree in history, and has taught at the high school and college levels. When not writing he spends his time getting himself into trouble.
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