Monday, November 22, 2010

22 November 2010 And may you stay forever young

Casi Creek:

Cold wind of late Autumn burning through our souls,

Warns of painful changes, questioning our roles,

Warns of coming struggles, warns us of the odds.

Storm foretells the winter, twilight of the gods.

See the caisson rolling, hear the sharp reports of guns,

And the black horse, riderless, dancing to the drums.

Huge, the things he started, Bright the words he spoke

Ringing in the changes with a youthful, brilliant stroke,

John, he gave us music, and John, he gave us hope.

Changed our ways of seeing with a crashing single note.

Now the troops are all in dress blues, crepe, and muffled drums,

And the black horse, skittish, riderless, flinches from the guns.

On this date in 1963, President John F Kennedy was assassinated. He was struck by rifle bullets ostensibly fired by Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was captured and subsequently killed by Jack Ruby in the Dallas Police Station. The murder and the subsequent investigation by the Warren Commission spawned an entanglement of conspiracy theories as impenetrable as the wire between the trenches that bisected France in WWI. We will likely never know the full truth behind JFK’s untimely death.

There are points in history that link generations. My parent’s generation, survivors of the Great Depression, soldiers, sailors, liberators, volunteers who fought WWII will always remember where they were when Pearl Harbor was attacked and where they were when FDR died.

For Boomers, those of us who retain sufficient working brain tissue will recall where we were when the first moon landing was broadcast round the world; and where we were when we heard the JFK had been assassinated. I’ll leave those recollections unposted. Fill in your own, as you should.

Kennedy was the first President born in the 20th century. He came to office while still young and virile in nature. He was a war hero, the first Catholic to win the Presidency, and a proponent of change in many things. He, along with his brothers and the aid of LBJ, were instrumental in picking up and extending the federal efforts toward ending racial discrimination that Harry Truman had begun. He was a proponent of special warfare, anti-communist but not rabid. He had the courage and the wise choice of advisors that allowed him to face down Nikita Khrushchev in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

As for other changes, he most likely would have pulled our troops out of South Vietnam although that will never be proven. He was both a WWII and Cold Warrior. And upon his promise, we reached for and made it to the moon. It is hard to plot where he might have taken this nation had he lived. As with any fallen leader, the legacy is not clear.

I initially headed this entry “Johnny we hardly knew ye.” It seemed appropriate for a military hero and fallen leader. But we didn’t really know him as well as we thought we did. As JFK held office folk songs were being pushed off the airways by folk-rock. Change was beginning to redefine what and who we listened to on our radios. So a bit of thought brought a better header to mind. As military heroes are wont to do, he died too young, life and plans incomplete. We’ll always see him at that age. His fame and his misfortune are to be “forever young.”

“May God bless and keep you always

May your wishes all come true

May you always do for others

And let others do for you

May you build a ladder to the stars

And climb on every rung

May you stay forever young

Forever young, forever young

May you stay forever young

“May you grow up to be righteous

May you grow up to be true

May you always know the truth

And see the lights surrounding you

May you always be courageous

Stand upright and be strong

May you stay forever young

Forever young, forever young

May you stay forever young

“May your hands always be busy

May your feet always be swift

May you have a strong foundation

When the winds of changes shift

May your heart always be joyful

May your song always be sung

May you stay forever young

Forever young, forever young

May you stay forever young”

Copyright © 1973 by Ram's Horn Music; renewed 2001 by Ram’s Horn Music

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