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
November 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm
Amen, brother, amen.
Once again – well done. Many thanks for taking the time to write this. May your life be blessed with happiness. I know it is filled with excitement. Oliver wouldn’t have it any other way!
November 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm
Hey Linda! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! It’s one of those dates I seem to remember each year, and this year it opened the flood gates of reflection!
November 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm
November 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm
A pithy and provocative comment as promised!
November 23, 2011 at 9:50 am
love how you wove the personal details (I can picture you on a runaway horse) with the historical.
You have a mind like a steel trap and a kinf, loving heart.
November 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm
Thanks for the “kinf” words! Unlike Ileen’s comment, your comment is pithy and provocative as promised!
November 23, 2011 at 10:06 am
It was the biggest shock of my young life, up to that point. It was as if one of the gods had been destroyed. As I told you at Omega, I was putting the finishing touch–a drawing of Cuba with a Russian missile on it–on a poem I’d written about the Cuban missile crisis when Mr. Gunderson came back in from a conference in the hall with our principal to announce Kennedy’s assasination. I was speechless. I also recall that it was raining like hell that afternoon and nearly dark as night. Highly symbolic.
Oh, by the way, I believe we were in 7th grade, not 8th. It was 1963, and using a trick I learned somewhere, if you subtract 6 from your age–we were 13–you get your grade–7.
Happy Thanksgiving, my friend!
P.S. Strangely enough, 9/11 happened when my son was 13–the very day he turned 13, as a matter of fact–and I think that’s the only other event that fully compares in scope to the effect of the Kennedy assasination on the entire nation and the world.
November 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm
What’s a reputable fellow like yourself doing in a place like this? 😉 Thanks so much for reading, commenting and sharing the experience with me. It was life changing, consciousness shifting and unforgettable. However, I beg to differ regarding the grade we were in! When I try to employ that trick of yours I get my weight, not my grade!:-)
November 24, 2011 at 9:59 am
Damn! You’re right! Since we started high school in “64, it must have been 8th grade! I get confused because—lucky me—I had Mr. Gunderson (aka Jimmy Jaw) for BOTH 7th and 8th grade. Maybe in that equation I sent you one is supposed to subtract five years, not six. I haven’t used it for a long time. Thanks for setting me straight.
November 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm
Thanks for your good wishes. It’s an exciting time to be alive. I feel the movement toward higher consciousness–more love and compassion–strongly all the while it looks like the world is unraveling. Don’t be fooled by the looks!!! (and I see you aren’t)
November 27, 2011 at 7:46 pm
Thanks so much Ruth! I do have faith that things are going to be OK. We have to choose love not fear!