– memories of a man getting older –


January 26th, 2009 · No Comments

jfk_eternalflameNovember 22, 1963. I was in algebra class. The windows in the room overlooked the front of the school, the drive up to the school, the grass circle where the flag pole was planted, flying the flag of the United States.

It was around 1:30 when the announcement came over the school PA system – the president had been shot. The shock – mumbling, questioning voices stirred through the class. Ken Leslie sat in front of me. He was my neighbor, although we didn’t really hang out much together. I recall saying to Kenny that maybe the president was only wounded. Moments later we watched as a couple of school custodians walked across the grassy circle to the flag pole and lowered the flag to half mast. Kenny turned and called me an idiot.

The manner in which the investigation of that event was handled, and the delivered results, was reason for me, along with millions of others, to lose faith in our government. And, not just lose faith but take on a new perspective – they were not to be trusted. And, in my heart, and I dare say the heart of many who lived through those times (for Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy also fell), there has not been a glimpse of hope until this election of 2009 and our new president, Barack Obama. Yet, sadly, the hope is tempered with some skepticism.

You, my daughter, will grow up with a slight remembrance of a tragedy of your youth – September 11. Who knows what new tragedies you will witness as you grow through your years. Perhaps the only sure thing is that they will occur.

I’ve spent a number of hours these last few nights looking at youtube videos of the Kennedy assassination and various images and theories. It’s odd, but there is a certain sweetness in the sadness. The event still rips the heart, still fills me with a sense of grief and despair, and yet … there is something soft, slightly delicious, in the remembrance.

And so it seems with life. The greatest sadness, the painful heartbreaks, these events somehow get us in touch with one of the greatest qualities of our humanity. It is difficult to explain, yet there is no need for explanations, for you will live through your own experiences that will put you in touch with what we all ultimately share within – some mysterious, soulful, understanding arrived at through our pain and grief.

Tags: High School · Metuchen N.J.

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