Friday, November 22, 2013


History is a relentless Master.
It has no Present, only the Past
rushing into the Future.
To try to hold Fast is to be Swept aside.
-John F. Kennedy

On November 19, 1963, the need to travel to Texas and help mediate a political dispute prevented President John F. Kennedy from being present in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.  While he was unable to attend in person, President Kennedy did write a special statement, which was sent to Gettysburg, in honor of the event.  President Kennedy's statement concluded, "On this solemn occasion let us all rededicate ourselves to the perpetuation of those ideals of which Lincoln spoke so luminously.  As Americans, we can do no less."  Three days later, President Kennedy was dead.  Murdered on the streets of an American city.  In broad daylight.  In front of scores of people.  

I did not arrive on the scene until more than three years after President Kennedy's assassination.  I have no firsthand knowledge of the man of course.  Everything I have learned about him has come from secondary sources, whether books, television programs, articles or other materials - including but not limited to Doc Rud who shared with our AP American History class in November 1983 where he had been and what he had been doing when he learned that President Kennedy had been shot and killed.  

As a child I did glean quite a bit of information about him from listening to Dad speak of him.  While I know that Dad was not a Ted Kennedy fan, I always got the impression from him that he was quite fond of JFK.  Perhaps it was the fact that the Kennedys, like the Kennys, were Irish Catholics.  Then again, having not ever discussed the subject directly with my father, it is entirely possible that my recollection of his perspective on JFK is totally wrong.  I shall have to defer to Bill or Evan for clarification of that point.  

In the half-century since President Kennedy was assassinated, the national pre-occupation with him and with his family has not simply raged on but grown.  Kennedy the man has in many circles been lionized and been elevated to legendary status.  I wonder what the man himself would say about this myth-making.  Perhaps he has already told us:  The great enemy of the Truth is very often not the Lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the Myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.  

But then again maybe sometimes people need to believe in the Myth - even if only a little - for belief in the Myth makes them feel good about themselves and about the world in which they live.  And when reality intrudes and a bullet shatters their day-to-day and changes everything, having the Myth or its memory at least to fall back upon, provides a modicum of comfort in a world in which far too often comfort is a hard-to-find luxury.    

And perhaps, after all, there is a not a damn thing wrong with that at all....

....In short, there's simply not 
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
in Camelot.


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