Blog Entry-November 22, 2011
Remembering the Kennedy Assassination and Reflections on the 60’s, The End of Innocence and the Dawn of a New Age
Today is November 22, 2011. It is Thanksgiving week in America. On this day in history in 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th president of the United States of America, was assassinated as he rode in an uncovered car in a motorcade through downtown Dallas, Texas. He was 46. I was 13.
There are moments that are frozen in time, when you remember where you were and what you were doing when you learned about some cataclysmic, life-changing event. During my lifetime, some of those events have included the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttle explosions and the horrific events of 9/11. As with those, I remember this moment also with some clarity.
I was in my 8th grade classroom at St. Monica School. It was just after lunch and the Franciscan nun who was our school principal came into our classroom to inform our teacher that President Kennedy had been assassinated. Both women were in tears and although we had not yet been informed, we all knew something horrible had happened.
It was Friday, and I went on a scheduled camping trip with my Boy Scout troop that weekend. We went to someone’s cabin on a horse farm. My sleeping bag was old and worn and I absolutely froze my ass off that first night as I tried to sleep on the hard floor of the cabin. I slept the next night in a horse stall. There was hay to make it a bit softer and a horse blanket to make it a bit warmer, but not much. We rode horses. Although I had been on horses before, I didn’t really technically know how to ride. I just kind of made it up as I went. I remember the mixed feelings of exhilaration and fear as my horse sprinted balls to the walls at a full gallop as it ran for the barn. I don’t know how I managed to hang on, but I did. That afternoon we played in a muddy ravine and had an epic mud fight. The weather was cold, raw, damp and gloomy and I remember the adults speaking together in hushed tones and the overall pall cast by the news of the assassination. It left the nation reeling in shock and it felt like time stood still for days on end.
There was continuous television coverage on the only three networks we had at the time. I got home from the trip on Sunday and watched Lee Harvey Oswald get shot and killed by Jack Ruby on live television. School was cancelled that Monday and my family and the nation watched the requiem mass and the state funeral on TV. It was the end of innocence, the end of my childhood and the early days of the turbulent 60’s.
Much had happened already in the first three years of the decade: the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, Berlin Wall, Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuban Missile Crisis, Cold War, Peace Corps, Space Race, the deepening of the Vietnam conflict, and the seeds of what would grow to become Sadaam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, and construction of the Kinzua Dam which flooded 10,000 acres (4,047 ha) of Seneca nation land that they occupied under the Treaty of 1794.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy was like a gate swinging open for everything else that was soon to follow: the Civil Rights Movement, race riots, the horrific carnage of the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., the Anti-War Movement, the Weather Underground, Abbie Hoffman, Timothy Leary, Rock and Roll, LSD, cultural upheaval, Haight Ashbury and the Hippies, High School, College, Protests, Woodstock, Easy Rider, men on the moon, Richard Nixon, “dis-illusionment” in the true Buddhist sense of the word, and my own awakening and shift in consciousness as I left the Catholic Church, embraced a new awareness, left home, tuned in, turned on and dropped out and eventually left the country altogether at the end of the decade. As a Nation, we were never the same as we had been. As a person, I was never the same either. Everything and everybody was, once and for all, irrevocably different. We weren’t in Kansas anymore.
Today is Tuesday November 22, 2011. It is Thanksgiving week in America. I feel as though we stand ready for a great shift in consciousness that will by far surpass that which began in the 60’s and continued in the decades that followed. I am grateful for all that I have: family, friends, health, home, food, warmth, shelter, freedom, this beautiful area, the earth and my mental and creative faculties. It is a momentous time to be alive and physically incarnated on planet Earth, Third Stone From the Sun; in a galaxy we call the Milky Way.
I wish you all
Love, Light and Blessings!
November 22, 2011