1960 saw the torch passed from the WWI generation to the veterans of WWII. We saw it happen as JFK stood in the snow and cold proclaiming the shift and intending to make it happen.
After WWII and Korea, after FDR, Truman, and Ike, the apparent youth and energy of JFK and his family made the comparison to Camelot an easy one. The popularity of the administration and the first family became intermixed and mingled with the popular musical.
It was a time when science was in vogue, when men in white shirts and narrow ties used slide rules as tools and as weapons as the U.S. faced down the USSR in every imaginable venue. From beneath the polar ice cap to the moon, competition drove us to make this a better nation.
Then, a single sniper took the image of Camelot away from us. LBJ did not and could not fit into the images we had formed around Kennedy. He was, in fact even blamed for the assassination in an adaptation named “McBird”
It’s been a long 50 years since the murders in Dallas. We think we know what would have changed, what might have been the future of the U.S. if Kennedy had lived. However, that’s all conjecture. My war, and that of all VietNam vets might not have been. Johnson’s Great Society might have been derailed by Kennedy’s New Frontier.
We’ve spent 50 years listening to conspiracy theorists who could and did prove absolutely nothing. We’ve spent 50 years listening to and watching bits of history that changed our images of the Camelot years and players. In the end, many of us idolized JFK and believed him to be more than we now know he was. His death was a watershed moment in our lives, a generational billboard on the highway of American history. But, Johnny, we hardly knew ye!