November 22, 1963 — Do you remember where you were?
America saw the coming of a Camelot to the United States and the presidency. There had been great presidents; many, but John F Kennedy and his first lady, Jackie Kennedy, brought an elegance that had not before been felt. They were something truly new in 1960.
Known as Jack or JFK, John F Kennedy was handsome, athletic, young and a war hero. He had all the characteristics of a great president. He brought with him a welcoming change from the status quo and that included a hard charging Attorney General like Bobby Kennedy. President Kennedy and his brother Bobby may well be credited with igniting a civil rights movement taken forward by men like Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Lyndon Johnson.
Jackie Kennedy brought a beauty and elegance to the Whitehouse not seen for a long time and her youth helped to ignite young people to get involved in our country and its politics. She was the country’s first lady ever much as she was the President’s.
I was 6 years old, standing in my families’ living room when that awful announcement came over television, “the president has been shot”. I remember my mother dropping to her knees in tears and telling me what an awful day this was. It was November 22, 1963 and little did I know how significantly President Kennedy’s assassination would impact our country for years, in fact for decades.
President Kennedy accomplished great things for his country:
- The beginning of civil rights and an end to discrimination;
- That an American would step upon the moon;
- That the Berlin Wall would come down;
- He created the Peace Corps;
- He formed an alliance with Israel;
- Convinced the Soviet Union the wisdom of a Nuclear Weapons Proliferation Treaty.
On this, the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death, perhaps it is a good time to reflect on:
- Whether we have come far enough in civil rights and a final end to discrimination?
- How, 50 years later, we still have children going hungry, families without shelter and the sick without comprehensive health care?
- How have we come 50 years and not yet seen even a subsidence to war, terrorism and conflict around the world?
Maybe it is worth going back and reflecting on comments then candidate Kennedy made at the Democratic convention in 1960:
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. For the problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won—and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier … But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises—it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them.”
Perhaps it is time for us to remember we are a country and not political parties. That, first and foremost, every one of us is an American and that we should come together to lend a helping hand up to all of our fellow Americans who need one. That we should demand more accountability from our politicians, regardless of party affiliation and demand an end to divisive politics motivated by corporate Barons.
Perhaps we should try to bring back a little of Camelot.