As I have watched and listened to the seemingly endless remembrances of the Kennedy Assassination during the 50th anniversary, I feel compelled to add my two cents.
I was barely two years-old the day JFK died, so I recall nothing first-hand of that day, but like most people, I have been immersed in the events and aftermath of that day for my entire life. In my teens I became very interested in the events of that day, primarily through books and some TV shows. For many years, I was an advocate of the conspiracy/multiple gunman theories. I have since revised my opinions and believe that Oswald acted alone. I say this not to open any debate, just to let you know I have evolved as I grow older.
Aside from the nuts and bolts of those events, I feel the need to examine JFK’s death in a larger context. Those four days in 1963 began a seismic shift in our national awareness, and as has been said so many times, began the loss of innocence in our small part of the world. We all began to understand life was not like “Leave It To Beaver”, or “Father Knows Best”. TV in particular began to change and evolve. JFK’s killing was essentially the beginning of TV as our mutual national campfire. Just like earlier times when we gathered round those real fires to trade news and stories, Television served the same purpose. We gathered round it’s warm glow to find out what was happening and important in our world.
Sadly, TV news may have actually peaked on that November day when Kennedy was shot. It’s very possible Walter Cronkite, and Bill Ryan (NBC), were the best breaking news reporters ever on that day. They wrote the book as they were reporting the events and were incredibly good considering the limitations of the early TV technology.
But in a larger sense, it’s my feeling that the assassination began the feel and mindset that defined the decade of the 1960’s. For me, the 60’s aren’t just a typical ten-year decade. It’s a mindset, and sea-change in attitudes and feelings in this country. I would submit the sisties begin with JFK’s killing, and ends with Nixon’s resignation. That time period features the Johnson Administration, Vietnam at it’s peak, Racial strife and reform, more killings with King, and Robert Kennedy, Nixon’s election, and downfall, along with countless other events like Kent State that shook our countryand world to its foundation.
So while recalling the death of JFK this week, let’s also remember the events that it foreshadowed and helped to occur.