Friday, November 22, 2013

THE Murder at 50—A Boomer Touchstone

Everybody hates Baby Boomers—their own parent’s generation and the several stalled behind the wide load in the highway that won’t let anyone pass.  Hell, Baby Boomers are pretty good at self-loathing themselves.  You know the charges—coddled, self-absorbed, self-righteous, and by their sheer overwhelming numbers the stubborn dominators of American culture and politics.  Can’t and won’t get the hell out of the way and stop boring the rest of you with our endless old stories and fixations.  Worse, it will take a long time for enough of us to die off to lift our oppressive burden.  You're stuck with us.

And another self-referential navel gazing post like this one….
November 22.  For the members of my generation, at least, I don’t have to say or write anything else.  You know.  The date and the event are fixed in your mind.  If you were sentient in 1963 the moment when you heard THE NEWS is so solidly etched in your memory that you can recall every detail—the cast of the light through the window, the muffled sobs or wails, even the smell of that autumn day.
November 22, 1963, fifty years ago today, was, of course, the day President John F. Kennedy was shot while passing the Texas School Book Depository Building in an open car with his young wife, resplendent in pink, sitting beside him. 
I am not going to relate the details.  You know them.  Nor am I going to sort out the 1,354 various conspiracy theories which have been put forward.  Most of them are ridiculous.  Some are compelling.  The official Warren Commission Report was as full of holes as Swiss cheese and the Congressional investigations since then have at best given us a glimpse “trough a glass darkly.”  The absolute TRUTH, if any such thing is possible to know, will probably always elude us. 
It is enough to know that a young President, in whom many of us had invested great hope, was killed because some vague THEY wanted him dead and that hope, merited or not by the flawed individual, was crushed.
It is the stuff of legend.  Two hundred years from now operas, epic poems, or whatever form that heroic art takes shape then, will imbue the events with magic and dignity.
Yet right now, this is still peculiarly our day, it owns us inescapably. 
But for my grown children it is only a historical event.  Their stomachs do not flip with the remembrance.  They acknowledge it without understanding it the way we acknowledged December 7, 1941—the central stark moment in our parents’ lives.
And for my grandchildren…well it is just another day on the walk-up to Thanksgiving.  It is more distant to them than say, Black Friday 1929 was to us. They hardly know who John Kennedy was.  They never heard of Lee Harvey Oswald.  If reminded, they may grunt a foggy awareness.  But it is no more real to them than the Peloponnesian Wars. 

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