I'm not one of those who say that you can't talk about something if you weren't there.
If that was true most of us couldn't talk or write about anything that happened before we were born. Since that's obviously ridiculous, I've been reading with interest the opinions and assessments of people who clearly hadn't even been around on 22 November 1963,let alone old enough to know what was going on. In the end, it's their opinion and perspective and you can learn things from people who weren't caught up in the moment.
But some opinions and perspectives have to be challenged.
Paul Vale, the Home Page Editor of The Huffington Post UK, writes:It seems bizarre that the country could change so dramatically with the death of one man." Really?
Not if you'd been around when it happened.
First of all, I grew up in 'The World Of Kids'. All baby boomers-no matter what circumstances, ethnicity, gender, had their own version of it. Television, toys, three meals a day-total mummy and daddy-wrap. We played outside, we had plenty fresh air, the whole thing. After all, we boomers were the hope of a generation that had come through the Depression and World War Two and nothing was too good or too much for us.
And we took it all. For example, the luckiest year to be born in this country was 1948.
If you were born that year, you had 180 degree cradle-to-grave welfare state. That's one of the things your parents voted to set up, one of the reasons the Tories didn't win the election and Churchill wasn't returned to Number 10. Everybody wanted to start over. Wipe the slate clean. Make a new country.
American parents, too, wanted a Year Zero. They worked as hard as hell to make it happen. That's just one of the reasons why, in the States, they're known as 'The Greatest Generation'.
On 22 November 1963, in the US, after lunchtime, (my hometown of Chicago is in the same time zone as Dallas) on a school day, we were told that the President had been shot dead. I walked home, crying. It was raining, like something out of a corny movie. People were wailing; standing around stunned; praying out loud. Later in the evening, we saw pictures on TV of the First Lady
(every little girl had 'Jackie' paper dolls) dressed in that gorgeous pink Chanel suit all covered in blood, standing next to Lyndon Baines Johnson, the Vice President, as he took the Oath of Office on an Air Force One clearly getting the hell out of town.
My mother - whose tears I had never seen before - cried all day long and all night for days. She wasn't the only mum doing that. Dad cried, too, but guys didn't do tears in public in those days. Babies watching Bozo on lunchtime TV were crying because everybody around them was crying.
It was four days of wall-to-wall 24-hour TV featuring not Breaking Bad or the X Factor but two murders, a wake, a state funeral, and a new President addressing the nation. This was coverage that the entire country - millions and millions of people - watched. This was unprecedented. It changed the industry forever.
What I remember about the funeral was the drum, a lone, rolling, dark thing.
My little cousin drummed its mournful beat for months and months on everything. There was the riderless black stallion being led down Pennsylvania Avenue with his saddle on backwards to indicate a fallen Commander In Chief.
And everything, everywhere in deepest, mournful black. Except the Kennedy kids. The fashion-conscious Jackie dressed them in pastels.
'Apple Pie America' had been blown to bits and what was left? Deep, deep suspicion.
And sure, there've been conspiracy theories all the way to the beginning of the Republic but answer me this: (here I go: see what I mean?) how could a guy with a cheap rifle double-tap the POTUS- the most protected person on the face of the earth- in full view-then he gets blown away himself, part of that revolutionary rolling coverage?
One day we've got JFK and East Coast Cool. And literally boom! the next day we've got a cowboy straight outta Texas. Throughout his Presidency and beyond, there were those who said that LBJ's known ambition to be POTUS must have made him part of a conspiracy to kill JFK. Nutty? To many, it's still their meat and drink, even half a century later.
Left/Right/Centre or Nothing, we Boomers are a demo who don't accept 'The Official Version'- of anything. We were kids in a country where murder could happen to anybody and nobody told us then or as far as we're concerned ever told us anything that sounded to us like the truth about that day. Or any day.
"...Bizarre that the country could change so dramatically with the death of one man.." But it did.
November 22, 1963 was "The End". Just like Jim Morrison sang a few years later.
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