Friday, November 22, 2013

Remembering JFK

Each year during the past forty-nine,  there has been less and less said about JFK's assassination. It appalled  me, but I understood that most of us living today weren't even born in 1963.

Today I feel vindicated as the channels are full of his family, his funeral and his exploits,  though as usual, the media doesn't know when enough is enough.  It's okay, though, because our younger citizens need to know. Even though we will be inundated over the weekend,  allow me one more personal remembrance of JFK:

I was kind of in love with Kennedy. I admired his family and followed his administration; I was young and idealistic and when I read of his heroic exploits in the South Pacific during WWII, I became a devotee. Until today, however, his legacy has been laced with a kind of blandness as though aside from his youth, his wit and charisma, his attractive young family, he really accomplished very little. This is blatantly false.

There are a number of things to admire about his presidency other than his weekly banter with the White House Press Corp and his awe inspiring speeches. True, he allowed Khrushchev to get the upper hand (at first). Also true, that the Berlin Wall went up during his tenure. Indeed, he resided over the Bay of Pigs fiasco and we're all aware of his "indiscretions." But I believe today, that had that young president lived, he might have been one of our greatest leaders. Remember, he had only a thousand days in which to accomplish his agenda.

The thing I remember about the Kennedy administration was the sense of idealism and public service it inspired in us, more than I have seen since, even though President Obama came close in 2008. We wanted to serve back then; patriotism was not just a word being thrown back in our faces when we disagreed with government policies, it was a conviction. We believed passionately and reacted fervently.

As for his accomplishments, take note: the Peace Corps, the Alliance for Progress, Civil Rights legislation, the Space Program and the introduction of the Green Berets. His major accomplishment, however, was a tight and tense little psychological drama between the USA and the USSR known as The Cuban Missile Crisis, which, without the facile maneuvering of the Kennedys, might have left the world in a state of nuclear disaster.

I guess his potential greatness will never be known which is what happens when someone takes you out before your time. But I think when all is said and done, his star will ultimately shine as one of the brightest. And though there are abundant tributes to you this day, Mr. President, I would like to say that I remember.  And I am grateful to have learned my political abc's under your leadership. You never blamed others for your mistakes -- you took your lumps with calm and grace. How refreshing it would be if our leaders today would learn to do the same.

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