Posts Tagged ‘Kennedy Assasination’

Letter From New York 11 22 2015 The world goes its crazy ways…

November 23, 2015

Anniversary of Kennedy’s death. Lionel White. Pierre Font. Brussels. Paris. National Registry for Muslims. Donald Trump.  Marco Rubio.  Jeff Cole. George Stephanopoulos. Jeb Bush. Ebola. Liberia. Earthquake in Afghanistan.

It is the 22nd of November and for some reason I remembered that today is the 52nd anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy.  When I was reading the Times this morning with my first cup of coffee, it struck me.

I was in middle school and the principal came in and whispered to the teacher, who told us and we were all sent home from our Catholic School and began a mourning that I am not sure we are over.

It was a grayish day today and on the chill side but tonight there was the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen in my time here.  The sky was a lush red that filled the horizon.  I attempted a photo but it didn’t do the colors justice.IMG_1062

Also, the deer have returned.  There was a family of them scattered on the road, on my property and across the street at Lionel and Pierre’s home.  Standing proudly in Lionel’s yard was a young buck, watching as his family crossed the road in front of my very slowly moving car.

While I listen to jazz and wait for Lionel to arrive for Thanksgiving week festivities, the world itself goes on its crazy way.

Brussels seems to be in a virtual lockdown and a series of raids have been held during the course of the evening.  The city is on the highest level of alert, the Metro will not run tomorrow and schools are closed.  People are being advised to stay home and inside.

In Paris, they are searching for a third suspect and some are saying many “red flags” for the attacks were missed.

The world has changed, again, since the Paris attacks.  Trump is talking a “national registry” for Muslims.  He also claims that on 9/11 “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey cheered as the Towers fell.  He claims to have seen it himself, on television.  Really?  George Stephanopoulos reminded him that the police say it didn’t happen.  But it did, George, but it did.

The Washington Post did an evaluation of the top Republican candidates and estimated that the nominee is likely going to be Marco Rubio, which my friend Jeff Cole suggested when we had lunch six weeks ago.

Jeb Bush comes in at number 5.  Number two is Donald Trump.  Is this really happening?  I have stopped laughing because The Donald might just pull it off and that is a really scary thought.

The Paris attacks have changed the tone of our electoral campaign and will continue to influence it as we progress toward this, to me, most bizarre of electoral cycles.

Sadly, Ebola has re-emerged in Liberia and 153 people are being watched to see how it develops in them.

There has been a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Northeast Afghanistan, bringing even more misery to that land of misery.

Thankfully, the jazz is soothing and the fire cheery.  So I end the day, curled up in the comforts of the cottage, Tempting as it might be, I am not yet retreating into blocking out the news of the day.

When I was younger, globe trotting, I felt like a citizen of the world.  I still feel that way.

Letter From New York, November 26, 2013

November 26, 2013

Or, as it seems to me…

Fifty years later…

I was a young boy in Catholic school in 1963 when, in the early afternoon, it was announced that the President had been shot.  Not long after, it was announced that the President had died and we were all sent home.  At home, on that rainy November day, standing in our living room, looking out at Bryant Avenue, watching buses trundle down the rain slicked street, in a grey room on a grey day, I turned to my mother and asked her a question for which she had no answer:  what kind of country are we to do this?

I remember distinctly the color of the wood frames of the window, that I was looking out to the world and looking to the world to give me an answer.  That year the living room was painted an ivory color: I was standing behind a chair with a pink velvet back, next to a marble top that held ashtrays for guests, cocktail napkins and other assorted party goods, I remember all those odd details because that was where I was standing when I understood that Kennedy had died.  Not where I was when we I heard it but where I was when I understood he was dead.

I was crying that afternoon, once I realized what had happened.  I hadn’t realized what had happened when I heard the news; I only realized it when I was home, in the safety of my home, in the warmth of my home, in a place where I thought I was allowed to feel.

I was Catholic.  Kennedy was the first Catholic president.  We had all watched his inauguration on television in school on the portable television I had carried to school from my bedroom.  It was a major moment for Catholics, though not for my family.  We were Republicans and had supported Nixon – definitely a minority at Visitation School that year, 1960, when he had been elected. 

The 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Kennedy has brought back to me all kinds of memories of those days, the day he died, seeing Lee Harvey Oswald murdered on live television, the day he was buried.  I recall we watched CBS, Walter Cronkite’s voice carrying us through the trauma of having what we thought of as a lovely young man, youngest man elected to the Presidency, with a lovely family, the leader of the free world, a man of eloquent words and the capability of stirring men to motion, gone in a sudden, mad moment that even today seems incomprehensible.

Conspiracy theories flow like a raging river even now; there are conferences for them, those who think Kennedy’s death was the result of a far-right conspiracy or the result of Castro’s revenge, or that the Mafia organized his death or Lyndon Johnson’s Texas cabal organized the President’s death to catapult their man into office; it was Kennedy’s own driver who murdered him.  There were shots everywhere on the grassy knoll.  There are, it seems, a thousand theories and a hundred conspiracies, which have kept the case from closing on Kennedy’s death.  The Warren Commission was a white wash.  It goes on and on and will probably never end.

Kennedy was a man who said:  A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.  And Kennedy was an idea that has lived on despite our growing knowledge of his flaws and faults and all too mortal foibles, of his dalliances with interns, movie stars and mob connected women.  He accomplished only a middling amount in Congress but he was an idea and he lives on, an idea that drove us to the moon and back, an idea that created the Peace Corps, an idea that still inspires us to “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”

He is gone.  Those of us who remember where we were when we heard he had died are entering our late middle age or more and will be exiting the stage.  The 50th Anniversary of his death is a marker for those who remember where they were; fifty years is a long time, a lifetime, a half-century in which the world has radically changed.

It is said his death marked the end of innocence but we were not innocent then.  We were a deeply divided country, simmering with rage over integration and economic issues that bubbled over in the years following his death.  His death was the punctuation point for all the troubles to come.

But Kennedy was an idea and he lives on, an idea, an abstract, held in higher regard than any other post war President, 90% of people think he did a wonderful job and they think that because he is an idea that lives on, an eloquent idea that drew us beyond ourselves both while he lived and since he has died.