Saturday, November 22, 2008

a look back at jfk's assassination

today is the 45th anniversary of the assassinatin of john f. kennedy. that got me to thinking ...

in my post of november 5 about barack obama's election, i said that the great interest and excitement he brought to people reminded me of the great interest and excitement people felt about kennedy. i even noticed it at my young age -- i was a gradeschool student during his administration.

the day kennedy was shot, i was 10 years old and in the fourth grade. it happened on a friday; just before 3 p.m., when school was to be dismissed, the school's principal came to my classroom and told us the news.

rain was falling, and i imagined that the angels in heaven were crying about the sad news. (i was much more religious then, so please give me a break.)

then came the long weekend. lyndon johnson, the new president, declared monday, november 25 as a national day of mourning.

it seemed like nothing much happened. most of that time i was watching television, like most of the country. and i was shocked, like most of the country, when i saw jack ruby shoot lee harvey oswald.

when i wasn't inside i was riding my bicycle, especially in the neighborhood of a girl on whom i had a crush. i won't tell you her name, but the first letter of her first name was t. she and i were in third grade together, but she was transferred to a new school for fourth grade.

i especially remember riding my bike on sunday, november 24, 1963. the day was sunny in that way it sometimes is during the fall and winter; the light was white and bright but not warming in any way.

i stopped a couple eof houses from where t. lived, but i went no further. i was paralyzed -- from fear of rejection or of the unknown, i don't remember -- so i didn't go by her house, or even up to her door and ask for her.

yes, i'll admit it now -- i was a gradeschool stalker.

politically, you could say that november 22, 1963, was the day the music died. it was the first of several tramatic events -- such as the vietnam war and the protests against it, the assassinations of malcolm x and martin luther king (with its attendant riots) and robert kennedy -- which made it seem for many people that a lot of hopes and dreams went into the toilet and were flushed away.

also --
i have no way to prove this point, but it seemed that american society started to change in another way. it started scheduling holidays on mondays so people could take a threeday weekend. they weren't that prevalent in the 1960s, but became more so in the 1970s and beyond.
addenum, november 23: the website gawker has several pictures of the day and place of jfk's shooting. please click here to see them.
addenum, november 26: by coincidence, i came across some notes this weekend about the assassination. i was going through some old notebooks to find things i can use in this blog or elsewhere.

i wrote them on november 22, 1993 -- exactly 30 years after the shooting.

in the notes, i wondered how reckless he was and if the open air car he rode in dallas was an invitation for assault. i think kennedy might've had a death wish because he was suffering from addison's disease and under severe pressure from his father.

i also wondered how committed he was to the advancement of civil rights for blacks and for withdrawl from the vietnam conflict.

but i was thankful that he was elected in 1960, because that meant richard nixon didn't become president -- then. that had to wait until 1968.

nixon was a convenient symbol of the lowermiddleclass wing of the republican party -- vindictive, smallminded, angry and resentful. it's an attitude that has run through the party for as long as i've been watching it.

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