Although my life has been busy over this past year and I have not posted as much like I have in years past, I always want to make sure that this day is remembered. I especially want it to be remembered because this country is going through a division not seen since the 60’s. The date November 22nd,1963 is embedded in the minds of the older generation much like 9/11 is embedded into my generation. These dates have significant meanings and altered the course of history. I used to write on this site to talk about the assassination and who could have been involved in the assassination, and over time I come to learn that the most important part is remembering what was lost that day. Although, I still want to learn the truth about what happened and who was involved, there is a time and place for that, and this day is neither of those. I save this day on my site for remembrance, reflection and a sense of hope this country had with its leaders.
I speak of hope because that is what John Fitzgerald Kennedy wanted to ensure would be his legacy when his time as president came to an end. A man that was focused on his image from early on in his political career and would be continued by his widow even after his death. The image of hope was talked about in most of his major speeches and he gave the American people the sense that we could do anything. As I was going for my graduate degree in American History, I was taught to be objective, read the facts and write about what I read. My opinion in the manner did not matter for what I was writing about but instead was directly about what I had just read. So, although my political opinion may be different then you, I am still able to listen to you and understand where you come from because I hear you and I listen. Being an avid reader of history, JFK had this same sense of objective behavior and could listen. His book Profiles in Courage was about those who stood up and had the courage to stand up for what they believed, even if it meant it went against their own party. JFK once said, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future”.
This country is just as divided now as it was in the 1960’s and the nation has been looking for leaders on both sides that can bring everyone together. As JFK said himself following his acceptance of the Democratic nomination. “But I think the American people expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack”. It makes me wonder had JFK been around during the time we live in now, how he would be perceived and how he would react to the current times. Some may argue that although a Democrat and a liberal, he would be perceived as a conservative in today’s world. JFK was a liberal who listened to the other side and was not afraid to go against his own party at times, which could give the inclination that he was conservative. This is an example of someone who understood his place in history at the time. Someone that understood history and how history is written, as he had his own historian Arthur Schlesinger in his administration as a special assistant. Having someone like this in the administration was not by accident, JFK wanted to see how history would see him in later years. He gave a speech in August 1960 in which he said, “We celebrate the past to awaken the future”. A leader that understood the past, and knew that by understanding the past, we could not make some of the same mistakes in a path going forward. That to me is what makes JFK connect to so many people in the years following his death with both Democrats and Republicans. His ability to show that although you may not be on the same side of his, he would listen to you and make you feel like he was and that this country was full of hope. This is what makes JFK connect to so many people in the years following his death with both Democrats and Republicans. They see leadership, they see understanding, they see hope, they see what was lost on this day 57 years ago.
One thought on “Let Us Not Forget”
Those of us old enough to remember November 22, 1963, will never forget that day and its impact on our society and that of the world. We could never have dreamed of the world we have today. Back then it was not uncommon to see conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans. As a 14-teen year old growing up in a red California, my parents had little good to say about JFK with core issues centered around race. My opinion is the country far more divided now as compared with the early 60s. Digital technology, social media, 24-hour cable news and never ending media comment were decades away and not possible to even imagine in 1963. As always, there was political division but there was always at least moderate respect for the highest office in the land as well as for government institutions. While the U.S. had been engaged for many years in Vietnam at the time of the assassination, the USMC landing in Danang was still some 16-months in the future. While we are blessed with many gifts, prescience isn’t one of them. What would have been the JFK legacy had he served his full term? Of course no one can say but I speculate he would have likely withdrawn from Vietnam considering previous experiences with the Bay of Pigs in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. It is important to remember the Communist threat and fear of the “Domino Theory” were very real and valid concerns back then but those are separate subjects. On this solemn and memorable day of history, it will be interesting to note how many people and those in media pay respects to the tragedy of 57 years ago.