50 years ago today, our country was thrown into shocked chaos and stunned mourning by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I watched CBS Sunday Morning earlier in the week. They had several segments about this horrific event in American history. What has remained with me, though, was the opinion piece about how the young, idealistic citizens – age peers to this president – suddenly became old, became the establishment, became the ‘ Man!’ Those bullets not only killed a president, it killed the post-war idealism in this country.
Life continued. The country was forced to grow up. The Civil Rights movement pushed onward, forcing this country to embrace the true ideals of our Constitution: All are equal. All are free. The Vietnam war raged on – an unwanted war that killed so many. How this country treated the returning veterans will always remain a great shame to America. Women’s rights groups burned their bras – the symbolic constraints – and proclaimed, “We are women, hear us roar, in numbers too big to ignore.” We successfully achieved space travel, the American flag planted firmly on the face of the moon. There have been incredible advances in medicine; I was the last generation to receive a Small Pox vaccine in the country. There has been great social, scientific, and economic change in America during these past 50 years. At times, it may seem we have taken a few steps back. Still, we continue this journey, from small steps to giant leaps, striving toward the promises of our Constitution.
Life has indeed moved on after the death of President Kennedy. His potential and his unfulfilled accomplishments will forever haunt us. We will continue to ask the lingering question, “What if?” The very act of assassination, murder committed by a spray of bullets shot from a distance, has foreshadowed a common occurrence in present day. But for that one moment in time in the early 1960’s – when all appeared to be some kind of wonderful – we can still look back at America’s Camelot and not only mourn the loss of a young president but also the loss of some measure of innocence.
LINK: JFK assassination – Cronkite informs a shocked nation