I have tried to be fairly objective about my feelings of today’s 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Kennedy, and I was successful up until this morning.
“Important milestone.” “Marking the day pays homage to a slain leader.” “Sensitivity to a nation’s feelings and memories has its place.” Yada-yada-yada.
By coincidence, that day was also a Friday. When I rose today and listened to radio reporting that reviewed that day’s events, physically powerful feelings of loss began to wash over me. I was eight years old 50 years ago, an eager and active third grader whose parents campaigned for Kennedy because of his idealism for the progressive spirit that he would bring to our nation. This is how our nation's future was supposed to go.
In reality, it was not the assassination of a president that affected me, but more, it was the demise of the potential of a nation on the verge of realizing great strides in civil rights, sexual equality, and the drive toward a progressive future that was passionate and potent.
Those born after that date, or those whose awareness of those events had not yet blossomed, cannot easily identify with this feeling. Someone who was only one year old at the time recently said to me that s/he could not understand the commotion that people are making over this fateful anniversary. It’s difficult to explain this feeling of grief for the loss of a dream, but that is what it was.