Speaking of the Boomers, today marks the 59th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, an event as traumatic to that generation as 9/11 was to a later. The oldest of us was just 17, seniors in high school and only beginning to become politically aware. But everybody loved John F. Kennedy. He was young and handsome, a war hero with a great smile. He had a classy wife and cute kids. If Eisenhower was everybody’s grandfather, JFK was their dad.
He was an Irish Catholic and so was almost everybody I knew. Today, when we’re as likely to elect a Mormon as a Muslim, it’s hard to believe that a Catholic President was a big deal. But most of all, he had big ideas, and we were ready for big ideas. We were going to the moon!
“We choose to go to the Moon… We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too. “
It was a New Frontier! And we, who had spent the last decade watching Westerns on TV and at the Saturday movies, were going to be part of that. Even today, more than 60 years later, reading a sampling of his rhetoric stirs the blood.
And then some nutjob with a cheap rifle shot him in the head.