Last night, J and I watched part of Tom Brokaw’s “Where Were You,” a TV special commemorating the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Neither J nor I was born during JFK’s lifetime, so we don’t remember his death…but we did grow up hearing the stories shared by our elders about that fateful day. The JFK assassination was the 9/11 of my parents’ generation: a vividly shocking realization of impermanence and vulnerability. Something that wasn’t supposed to happen here suddenly did, shattering in an instant any illusions of immortality.
Growing up After Kennedy, I was raised in a world where I simply took for granted the fact that a Catholic could be President and that a President could be killed, regardless of how charismatic he was, how elegant his wife was, or how young his children were. Growing up After Kennedy, in other words, I was raised in a world where nothing was unthinkable. People say that the nation’s innocence was shattered when JFK was killed, but I”m not sure human nature (much less a nation of humans) was ever entirely innocent. November 22, 1963 was reminder that life is fragile and idealism doesn’t come easy. Fifty years later, both of those realities are as true as they ever were.
This is my Day 23 contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.