Tuesday, November 22, 2005

This Day In History – It Seems Like Just Yesterday!

November 22, 1963

I was 16 years old – a junior at Governor Dummer Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts. I was heading to American History class – how ironic! - when we first heard the news that history had been made in Dallas. The President had been shot. The President was dead. The safe and simple world I had known died that day along with the vibrant young President who had ushered in the “one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.” It was all so sad and frightening and sudden and unexpected. As an adolescent, I was growing and changing and trying to figure out my place in the world. I had assumed that the world would stand still and wait for me to catch up. But beginning with that day in Dallas, the country itself began to change at a breakneck pace and we as a nation began to wrestle with an awkward kind of adolescence.

Tragedies and cataclysmic events piled upon one another like cars in a chain-reaction accident on a fog-shrouded highway.

Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus

Martin Luther King was shot

Chicago, Newark, Detroit, Watts erupted in flames and anarchy

RFK died on the eve of clinching the Democratic nomination

The Democratic Convention in Chicago turned into an orgy of carnage and chaos

The Viet Nam War escalated out of control

Flower children romped at the intersection of Haight and Asbury

The Beatles became more popular than Jesus

Richard Nixon moved into the Oval Office

Kent State changed from an educational institution into a symbol of America turning on its children and its children returning the favor

November 22, 1963

It seems like yesterday. Those born after that day felt a similar shock and sudden shifting of the tectonic plates of their lives on 9/11/2001. We remember where we were, what we were doing, and recall being riveted to the TV screen for hours on end – hoping that something a commentator might say could restore a sense of hope or sanity or normalcy to a world run amok. That’s what it was like for me back in 1963.

Today, I listened to radio news broadcasts, TV newscasts – and heard no reminder that it was on this day 42 years ago that the world forever changed. We move on – but I still hear the echo of gunfire in Dealey Plaza . . . “and that has made all the difference.”

He was not a great President. We now know of his foibles and failings, but back then he inspired us to dream great dreams, and when he traveled the world as the face of voice of America, we all stood tall and proud as he and Jackie were cheered and not reviled. Those were the days.

"Don't let it be forgot that once there was a spot - for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just look at the mess we are in now!