Two national anniversaries are rapidly approaching, and will fall within three days of each other. One recalls a stirring, uplifting speech given in a time of great national darkness. The other, a great darkness falling on what could have been a time of light and promise.
On November 19th, we will celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. Three days later, we will mark the 50th Anniversary of JFK's assassination in Dallas.
Strange that these anniversaries are within three days of each other. Maybe this is an opportunity for national reflection. These presidents are often linked in our minds. They were certainly two of our very greatest leaders, along with FDR. We were fortunate to have each of them -- in their times -- to save us from destruction.
We often wonder in the case of both Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy... what great gifts, wisdom and leadership did we miss when they were taken from us so soon? Would the South have been rebuilt 'gently' and brought back into the Union feeling -- as Lincoln intended -- like returning brothers instead of looted captives?
If Kennedy had lived, he very likely would have pulled us out of Vietnam. He certainly intended to pull us out of Vietnam.
Imagine our history without Vietnam. Imagine us today, had we not lost our belief in service, in government 'for the better good,' and in caring for each other. Both Lincoln and Kennedy asked us to dig a little deeper as a people, to grow, to progress. Have we done that?
Maybe the reason we have a shortage of great presidents in our time has something to do with the way we treat the great ones when they finally do come along. They are never aggressive enough for our tastes, never as angry or as vindictive as we'd like, and they tend to work for ideas like 'freedom' and 'service,' and 'making a difference,' and yes peace. They are clearly different than the hawks around them. And eventually, we kill them.
Do we deserve another Lincoln or another Kennedy? I wonder that all the time. I do however believe that the rest of the world deserves a Lincoln or Kennedy to rise up from within us. We can to do better.