I was in Grade Nine and I hardly knew who John F. Kennedy was, but I walked into the school and saw an American girl crying her eyes out. And then a boy said "Kennedy has been shot!"
I didn't realize then how much our world had changed, but Taylor Marsh describes what happened next:
Everything was different after President Kennedy died.
The American world that won WWII came apart.
The unraveling led to 50,000 dead in Vietnam, a war begun before J.F.K. that he escalated, but would likely have finished if he'd lived. The illegal bombings of Cambodia and Nixon’s perversion of secret leadership that would be the catapult for Rumsfeld and Cheney's design on the presidency we see today. The coming out of American culture, to Reaganism, Allende, Iran-contra and the secret coups, and the casualties of the culture war: two generations of gay men dead; leading to the Republican fixation with Middle East deliverance, the stalking of a Democrat president, to the attack on 9.11 that led to the rebirth of the notion that we can trust our government, because in the end we must... which led us back to foreign dangers of “urgent” threat and “mushroom clouds,” harking back to THAT TIME, only this time we were led by lies, warnings and threat levels that led us into a preemptive war in which we have lost our national soul.
The national soul embodied in the memory of the image of a youthful, vigorous and valiant J.F.K. Who, even though we now know was merely a mortal man, deathly ill, with addictions and predilections, we still mourn. Because he was the leader with passion, persistence and purpose, who when he spoke inspired us to close our eyes and imagine the impossible. A man who guided this nation at a time in history when war was the easy way out, but who instead found a way to preserve the peace.
Nothing was ever the same after J.F.K. died.