This has been a tougher week for us Baby Boomers than most of us could imagine. It is like it was yesterday even 50 years later. Every where I turn, media has another story about JFK’s life and demise. Over the years I have choked back tears when I talk of that day but now it is all flooding to the top. How come a person I never knew brings emotion similar to the deaths of my parents and grandparents?
It was a defining moment to coin a phrase. That really does not do this moment justice. Let’s go back 50 years….
It was a Friday, I was 10 years old and I was sick. Not sure what it was but I was staying at home that day in bed. My mom had some meeting to attend for her door to door sales job. She left me with toast, tea and little mandarin oranges at my bedside. That older black and white television was on and I lay there watching that feeling rather poorly. Little did I know I would be on the cutting edge of the most tragic moment in our generation’s history.
Reruns were on. I think it was I Love Lucy. Then the screen went into a news flash. Yes it was that CBS screen we have seen in the last couple of days. They did not have live cameras in those days so it was a text only screen. Flat graphics that today would be laughed at. The voice said that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. The day unfolded from there and now to be truthful is a sort of blur except one other moment. I saw Walter Cronkite takes his glasses off and bite back tears to tell the nation that John F Kennedy had died.
I don’t really remember how the rest of my family reacted. I do remember sitting in my room watching his funeral go down the road in Washington DC, John Jr saluting and the veiled Jackie. I was a moth to a light bulb and could not pull away.
Let us move forward a few years. Times had changed. We were not the Leave it to Beaver – Father Knows Best type of nation any more. My generation was released from our parents dream they created in the ashes of the Depression and World War II. The genie was out of the bottle. We found that the death of our president had darker shadows all around it. Conspiracy shrouded us and the trust of our government was broken. That trust that our parents had built up from saving the world from both war and economic failure was not ours.
We found our voices to tell everyone loudly we didn’t agree with war and discrimination against race and women. For me I adopted a lifestyle so different from my parents. The day I graduated and turned 18 I moved in with my new family. They were other young people like me and we became what many of the day called “Hippies”. We lived on 5 acres and did what we could to live more in tune with nature. But more important we didn’t trust “the Man” and never hesitated to speak up that our government was not perfect. That it needed to be overhauled and listen to us.
Looking back, we made change but it really did not change in many ways.
Today, here I am at home again. Not sick but taking a vacation day not realizing I would be watching the TV. Reliving it all again and not able to stop.
I think I will go have a good cry now and then carry on with the good fight.