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View Diary: Kitchen Table Kibitzing 11/21/2013: Where Were You on 11/22/63? (110 comments)

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  •  Thank you for doing this, Belinda. (16+ / 0-)

    That November day in 1963 has been on my mind for days now, though it has never really left since it happened 50 years ago.

    I know there are those who say that we boomers make too much of it all. Wonder if they'd say the same about 9/11 or the horror of Sandy Hook?

    I was 13 that November, almost 14. We were living outside Syracuse, NY as my step father was assigned to the Strategic Air Command Base there.

    Just the year before, in the fall of 1962 we'd made it through the Cuban Missile Crises , the closest this world has ever come to nuclear destruction. I'd never seen my step father and  mother so worried or frightened before. He was gone for days, only returning home once to grab a clean uniform.

    But we made it through. We all made it through, the earth made it through, thanks to President Kennedy.

    Hope was on the rise in 1963. Hope for change. Hope for making things better, even in the face of so much hatred and bigotry. There was an idealism and determination to make things what they should be. No goal was too big - a man on a moon, waging war on poverty, or finally ending the endemic racism of our country. All things seemed possible. After all, we'd stared down the barrel of nuclear war and come out the other side.

    And then November 22, 1963 happened. The world shifted and continued to do so over the following years. President Kennedy's death was a harbinger of things to come, though in our grief and horror, none of us knew that. Too soon we would.

    You see, I think ascribing the attention and emotion of this 50 year anniversary to his death, misses the larger context. As traumatic as President Kennedy's death was, it did not occur in a vacuum.

    It was the deaths of four little girls blown up in their church in Birmingham, Alabama earlier that year. It was the soul grotesque racism being broadcast on our televisions.

    It was Federal Marshalls escorting a six year old little girl to school. It was the March on Washington and Dr. King's "I have a Dream" speech.

    There was so much going on. And all of it shattered so much of the American mythos.

    And then our young President was murdered. The President who could surely guide us towards and through the healing that our country so desperately needed was gone. Then so was  Dr. King and Bobby. There were the students killed at Kent and Jackson State. There were our class mates, friends and brothers not coming home from Nam or coming home broken. It was Mrs. Kennedy remarrying after Bobby's death and getting her children out of the country out of fear for their lives. It was all of it. Every damn drop of blood and bit of broken dream.

    Something was hurt and hurt badly. Our innocence? Perhaps. Our faith? Maybe. Our belief in our ability to make a difference? Broken, but not gone. We're still here, after all, doing what we can, no matter how small. But it's never easy and it's never free of fear.

    What happened back then haunts how I look at President Obama. It haunts my hopes and dreams for our nation, and I doubt I'm alone.

    Sorry for going on so long. Guess it's all been on my mind.

    Thanks so much, honey. Blessings to you and everyone.

    There is something in us that refuses to be regarded as less than human. We are created for freedom - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    by Onomastic on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:59:24 PM PST

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