Both Susan at I THINK THEREFORE I YAM and CW at TILTING AT WINDMILLS posted yesterday about the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, and I left very similar comments on their blogs.
I liked some of the thoughts I'd left on their comments sections enough that I decided to paraphrase them here. I am also lifting a little of the JFK text from their posts because I am too lazy to go research it when they already did all the hard work.
Those who are old enough to remember the day JFK was shot remember exactly what they were doing when they heard the news, and the images of that day seared into their memories.
I was too young to remember JFK- I would have just turned two when he was shot, a year younger than John John was when he saluted the casket in this famous photograph.
I was schooled in Catholic schools where JFK was revered almost as a saint. All I ever heard from the nuns was that he was the best president who ever sat in the oval office.
When I was older, I studied his presidency in some detail, and it did not live up to the hype (in my opinion).
A lot of questionable decisions (can you say Cuban Missile Crisis or Bay of Pigs?), and some luck, but no question a regrettable and tragic ending-I wish we lived in a world where people did not shoot other people they disagree with.
Was there a conspiracy? I do not know enough to comment. But there is no question that this was the ideal candidate to usher in the age of television and politics. Some of the quotes attributed to him are quite remarkable.
JFK seemed to be open-minded to both liberal and conservative ideas, something that the politicians of my adult life do not understand.
"Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future."
His most famous quote, also called for Americans to exercise personal responsibility and accountability rather than looking to their federal government for a safety net.
One of his actions (while I oppose it from a Constitutional viewpoint-taxpayers should not have been billed for it) was quite inspirational.
Before an American had been in space, John F. Kennedy challenged America to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
And America delivered.
I used to use this as an example of a "stretch" goal to my staff (a performance objective that is possible but may not be achievable in the near term)..
Setting aside my issues of constitutionality, this is quite an achievement. Americans striving for something, working towards a goal.
What has America strived for since?
Hatchbacks on our SUV's that automatically adjust in height so they do not get scratched by the garage door (which is also automatic)?
JFK had vision that inspired people-and that is a rare quality in the candidates that seem to make it through our political process.
You can't even say Obama inspired people when you recall all those teary eyes at his first inauguration.
HE did not inspire those people-any successfully black candidate would have sufficed.
There is a funny story that Susan recounts about JFK's Berlin wall speech where the media later claimed that he'd made a linguistic faux pas by declaring to the German people Ich bin ein Berliner.
He was intending to say, "I am a Berliner," but unbeknownst to JFK, a Berliner happens to be a type of jelly donut made in Berlin, so the medial reported that he'd said "I am a jelly donut."
Decades later it was revealed that according to multiple evaluations of the speech by Germans, the way he said it actually indicated, "I am one with the people of Berlin," which is exactly what he wanted to say.
And which is exactly how the Germans received it.
None of the ridicule leveled at him ever came from the Germans-which should have been a clue.
But even if JFK had made a grammar error, it doesn't matter.
Maybe the nuns at my school were right to revere JFK after all, even if it was for the wrong reason (they did because he was Catholic).
Because who doesn't love a jelly donut?