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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving thanks

Turkey Day 2007. A time for family, food and football. A chance to reflect on the good home I am fortunate to have along with a good, fulfilling job. Not really a time for the partisan blasts that often emanate from this corner.

But I can't really let it go because this date -- November 22 -- has special meaning to me and many millions old enough to remember those words "In Dallas Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade..."

I was just leaving a seventh period junior high class when I heard the bulletin. I was settling into eighth period when the principal came on the public address system to say that Kennedy had died at Parkland Hospital.

Plans to buy a brand new reel-to-reel tape recorder went by the boards and we settled in for a national period of mourning for the young president so full of promise, gunned down in the prime of life.

But with the benefits of age, wisdom and hindsight, more than John F. Kennedy died that day. The hope and optimism that characterized this country -- the Cuban Missile Crisis notwithstanding -- died too.

The message was reinforced a little more than four years later, first with the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., by a white racist, then with Robert Kennedy's murder in Los Angeles at the hand of a Palestinian.

For me, the train that carried Kennedy's body on the journey from New York City to Arlington National Cemetery may just as well have carried the last shreds of hope.

Vietnam was then raging -- with far more opposition in the streets than today's discontent with Iraq. Conspiracies have flown about all three assassination but it's hard to escape a theme that runs through them -- discontent over ideology, race and the Middle East.

The hatreds that played a part or directly led to the murder of three clearly left-of-center political figures -- and the subsequent rise of conservatism in 1964 candidacy of Barry Goldwater and the 1966 election of California Gov. Ronald Reagan is also hard to ignore.

Today, Goldwater and Reagan are and were honorable figures in a conservative movement that has lurched even more sharply to the right -- dragged along by the Theocons who would impose their vision of righteousness and political correctness on the world. It's a often-overlooked fact that Goldwater has little respect for the Falwells and Robertsons who rose in his name.

So while I do have a lot to be thankful for on a personal level, I can't help but wonder how things might be today if things had gone differently on Nov. 22, 1963.

Would George W. Bush still be a drunken ne'er do well living of Dad's inheritance?

Would Dick Cheney have found serving in Vietnam was actually a worthwhile cause?

Would we have a government that respected the Constitution and would we be a nation respected in the eyes of the world because we stand up to torture and injustice?

Enjoy your family, food and football. And listening to Alice's Restaurant. Knock yourself out getting up at 3 a.m. to stand in the cold darkness of Black Friday. Enjoy the holiday season. I know I will.

But don't forget what might have been if things had gone differently that day in Dallas 44 years ago.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this post. Thank you.
I never really thought about what my parents went through that holiday season, but I know they grieved deeply because they cast their first votes as new Americans for President Kennedy.
And I listen to Alice's Restaurant every Turkey Day.

November 29, 2007 11:22 PM  

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