Friday, November 22, 2013

50 Years Ago ~ the Kennedy Assassination

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I was just over 3 years old when President John F. Kennedy was shot, so I barely remember the day. What I do remember is the overwhelming grief that adults expressed even years after it happened when we would see the anniversary in the newspaper or on TV.

So handsome, so gifted, so well-meaning - and much too young to die. At my house we didn't talk about all the conspiracy theories when I was a child - my parents were too grief-stricken - but as I got older, especially at school, we wondered why so many others were shot soon after: Robert Kennedy, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King. Here in the south there was an feeling of fear that anything could happen at any time, that things had gone too far towards chaos. I was in second grade when M.L. King died, and while I was still too young to fathom the politics, I was ashamed and shocked that the shooting happened in Tennessee. So I have an inkling about how those in Dallas, Texas must have felt then and feel today over the assassination of John Kennedy. Things like this should never happen in our backyards, in the United States.

And yet there are those today who sit around on the internet, on Twitter and Facebook and every forum, seething and screeching and threatening Barack Obama, calling for someone to "stop his tyranny" through any means possible. That horrible type of madness just never goes away it would seem. The John Birch Society of that time has become the Tea Party of today.

What the Tea Party needs to understand is that the death of John F. Kennedy didn't stop progress or change from happening to our country. President Johnson and millions of others carried out the reforms of the Great Society. The Koch Brothers, whose father founded the John Birch Society, may still try to suppress the vote, but minorities and women are voting in ever higher numbers and showed last year that they will stand together for hours at the polling places in the name of Evers and King. We just re-elected Barack Obama, an African-American President. Many old enough to remember the death of John F. Kennedy never thought that day would come, and yet it did.

Peaceful change is the best revenge for all those deaths.

This week Caroline Kennedy became Ambassador to Japan. Standing with her was her son, who looks very much like her father and her late brother, John Kennedy Jr. History changes, and Teddy Kennedy may be gone forever now, but the legacy continues, both of blood and values.

The deaths of great people are not in vain. They inspire us and lead us beyond death.

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