||[Nov. 22nd, 2013|04:41 pm]
22 November 2013 |
Of course, later, it turned out it was more complicated. The Japanese destroyer had not only cut his PT boat in two, it had busted his back up miserably, and later he was on more opiates than one might prefer for the leader of the Free World. Despite being married to a beautiful and intelligent woman, he would apparently pork anything that would hold still long enough. Despite the example of Ike, who one would think could be trusted in military decisions, he got us involved in Vietnam. (After all, to get elected he had to be harder on Communism than Dick Nixon, Joe McCarthy's enabler.) And of course he was the emergency backup for kingmaker Old Joe (Young Joe having blown up in the war), a vicious old fascist.
But, then, he was the face of hope, the face of youth and elegance and intelligence and humor. He was the promise of change. He was the harbinger of a new generation of Americans--born in that century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed. Then, he was luminous.
At one point, it was a common question. As the years and the decades passed, it became a touchstone, a means of recognition – where were you when you heard? (I was pulling the frame from a window in an old barn I was helping to tear down; just a garage now, but with a two-seater tucked into the back corner to remember a century even further back). Some of you remember. Some of you can't. I remember listening to the funeral on the radio – our TV was busted – and I remember starting to cry as the riderless horse appeared, and I remember the picture of John-John (dead now, too, everyone's dead now) saluting his father's casket. In some ways, we've never stopped crying, for the death of hope, for the beginning of this hard and bitter future.
But then, we were luminous.