November 22, 2013

Hard to believe fifty years have passed since JFK was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. I remember hearing about it when I was in Miss Roy’s 3rd grade class via an announcement over the loudspeaker that classes were immediately cancelled. I was eight at the time, and you have to remember those were simpler times. No one in my class (at least that I was aware of) was pregnant, dealt drugs, or shot guns around the playground. To show you how much of a dope I was, all I could think of when hearing he had been shot in Dallas, Texas was that he must have been killed in a Western gun-down with some bad guy.

My memories of that weekend are that it was very cold, that there was heavy frost on the ground, and a lot of tears being shed by my Mom and my Auntie Marge around the TV. I didn’t sit around to watch the events – I remember wanting to go outside or head down the cellar because I didn’t like hearing the sound of adults crying. I remember we didn’t have Sunday School that weekend and instead got to listen to old Mr. Nichols (who wasn’t quite so old then) preach a sermon on the President’s death. Funny the stuff you remember, huh?

In the decades since that time, this country has struggled with what to make of it all. You can blame the Warren Commission for a lot of that, I guess, but I think the biggest hurdle is the difficulty – still – of getting over the basic fact that some radical nobody from nowhere could take down the President of the United States so easily. Of course, looking at all the evidence, it’s not hard to see how it was possible: you give a trained shooter a solid weapon and a primo location against an undefended target and bad things can happen. Left-wing liberal loons like Oliver Stone (even if JFK was both interesting and well made) and left-wing media will do all they can to try and tell you otherwise, but the fact remains that Lee harvey Oswald was a Communist, left-wing loon to took down the prince of Camelot. You can’t blame the Tea party or the right-wing, gun owners, or the 2nd amendment for JFK’s death. The hard truth is, he was killed by a radical Communism and Castro-loving lefty. But liberalism has never let the truth get in the way of a meme that pushes the cause forward – as Che Guevara once famously said, in insurrection and revolution the end justifies the means.

Jackie Kennedy and a lot of sympathetic media folk were responsible for creating the whole “Camelot” thing, but history shows that JFK, compared to the likes of your Barack Obamas, Nancy Pelosis and Harry Reids would be known as a “Reagan conservative” today. The times he was President and his own life experiences made him a hawk on defense and the Soviet Union, and he was a fiscal conservative.

Had he not been assassinated, who knows what he might or might not have accomplished, but my guess is he would have gone down in history as a fairly unexceptional President. Unlike his brother (and Attorney General) Robert Kennedy, JFK didn’t believe in taking political risks one way or the other – in 1963 he was more concerned about being elected than anything else – hence, his extended trip to Texas. The risks he did believe taking were all sexual, and there’s little doubt the media covered up scandals that would have made Bill Clinton look like a choirboy.

The sad truth is that no one will really know the true legacy of JFK. His death tore a page out of a history book that had yet to be written. It’s said that the ’60s started the day Kennedy was shot and ended the day Richard Nixon resigned, and I think there’s something to be said about that. It’s hard to believe JFK would never know about the Beatles and the British Invasion, Vietnam as a war, or the coming apart of the nation in the late ’60s. Yet all have their place in history directly or indirectly as a direct result of JFK’s death: the Beatles arrival just three months later coaxed America out of its mourning and gave it something different to talk about. Vietnam was all Lyndon Johnson, and the ’60s protests was all Johnson’s doing – he was just another liberal who loved using his military to kill bunches of people, just like Barack Obama does.

Watching the documentaries about JFK I’m struck by his youth and vigor – especially because we now know he had Addison’s disease and was wracked by back pain his every waking moment. His wife was beautiful and classy – everything you’d ever want to see in a First Lady – and their children were precocious and adorable. And the times were different, much different – America was more innocent and less cynical than it is today. JFK’s death and the fact the government didn’t trust the people with the basic truth that a lone gunman could, and did, take down the leader of the free world in just three shots and several seconds created a ripple effect that still haunts and hinders this country today. The Warren Commission, Watergate, Jimmy Carter’s malaise, Reagan’s Iran-Contra, George H.W. Bush’s “no new taxes”, Clinton’s infidelities, George W. Bush’s “weapons of mass destruction”, and today, Barack Obama’s IRS, NSA, and Obamacare are mere extensions of the government’s inability to tell the truth that began with JFK’s death.

Fifty years is not so long a time that in remembering JFK we ought not to look at where we’ve come in all that time.

And shudder at what we’ve become and where we are heading. It’s both sad and frightening.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:53 | Comments (5)
  1. Sad to say, but I remember nothing of that day, even though I was only one year younger.

    It’s always interesting to do a “What if . . .” game at times like these. Would Vietnam have escalated as it did? Would Bobby Kennedy still be alive and a former President? Would having some more moderate elder statesmen in the Democrat party for many years have kept it from swinging so far left as it has?

    Would Mary Jo Kopechne still be alive?

    Sadly, we’ll never know.

    Comment by Dave Richard — November 22, 2013 @ 7:41 am

  2. Sister Venard announced the shooting over the PA at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. A few minutes later, she announced the death. What I’ll always remember was that she was crying. I had never seen or heard an adult cry. I imagine that was the reaction at most Catholic schools. President Kennedy was Catholic. I came home and told my Mom Pope Kennedy was killed. I have heard that story for the last 50 years. I was in first grade.

    Comment by Rob — November 23, 2013 @ 9:36 am

  3. Thanks Rob, it’s funny what kids remember and how they process information, isn’t it? I’ve got JFK as Gary Cooper, you had him as Pope Kennedy.

    You think about JFK’s assassination and the whole collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc in 1979 and wonder what kind of similar occasions the millennials will see in their lifetimes on the same scale we have seen in ours – perhaps Lady Gaga announcing she’s gay? Or Miley Cyrus renouncing sticking her tongue out at cameras ever again in return for hosting the next reality show involving hoarding on the Discovery Channel. The world has changed.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — November 24, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

  4. Great blog, Shank! I was in 6th grade when the nuns came to get my classmate Miss Fitzgerald from class to tell her that her relative had been assassinated. We all had to go to church and pray. I remember at home how somber it was. Being Irish Catholic from the Boston area somehow made it very personal to my family. It really was like Camelot had been destroyed. Too young to process it at the time, but it is so vivid and lasting to me to this day.

    Comment by Goose — November 25, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

  5. Thanks for the recollection, Goose. That’s a great story. Have a great Thanksgiving, hope you’re serving turkey, not goose. That’s for Christmas!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — November 26, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

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