50th Year Memorial Tribute to John F. Kennedy’s Assassination
50th Year Memorial Tribute to Kennedy’s Assassination Song, Childhood’s End, and video production by Rick Ryan and others whose names are unknown (to me):
I was skipping school that day. We had a 17 inch black and white Admiral television and I watched as the media began to shape our national reaction to this crime. I was transfixed, of course, not really aware of all that’s behind what I was watching.
It was a very symbolic crime. And our media works with symbolism to grab our emotions and capture our attention, shape our attitudes. I have some doubts that the course of our nation was dramatically changed on that day. But the nostalgia of the presentation in the Anniversary Video was indeed moving for me, because I was there, embedded in that atmosphere. We had mostly Republicans in my family and their emotions were not really on par with some of the media, though I don’t recall anyone being actually happy about it.
The secrecy state that was in the shadows as it grew behind and deep within the facade of the presidential institution, the icon we elect and think of, even adulate as our leadership, has come gradually out of the shadows after that iconic coup d’etat. I’m not sure that’s an expression of good or the arrogance of its hegemony within our culture. But now I know, as I did not know then, as I did not know when Johnson soon after lied us into Vietnam — and put me personally in jeopardy with that lie, destroyed the lives of several of my friends — that the secrecy state was already there, well entrenched, and working as an institution to become an industry of its own within our government, a government that is supposedly ours, but which increasingly was becoming corporate and oligarchic, beginning long before The Kennedy Assassination, which is in some ways not just the criminal act of Kennedy’s assassination at this point, but some kind of iconic event.
That secrecy state (for probably as revealingly a view of it as that security state will allow us, try: Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry) is now a full-fledged industry, and we Americans allow it to flourish, we pay for it with our taxes. How willingly do we do so if we aren’t allowed to examine it? What process in a participatory government allows evidence to be sealed for 50 years?
That we would accept anyone as being potentially so pivotal an individual– as JFK is considered pivotal by so many — speaks volumes for our collective sense of participatory democracy at this stage of moving from our Revolution in 1776. Even then, 1963, 187 years after that declaration of independence, I can still recall the adulation and the crushed hopes that followed.
We Americans have been evolving through a long process, a lot of it a discovery process. Some call it an experiment, I concur with that. We humans experiment with our cultures, our societies, as we attempt to adapt to this planet, even the universe. Not everyone understands what participatory democracy would be as we collectively experiment.
Not everyone agrees with democratic principles. Some prefer a more authoritarian atmosphere. After several thousand years of hierarchically ordered “civilization” experiments we’ve lost much of the cultural memes of self governance that probably underlie the developments of our brains and our ability to create systems of communication. Language being one of the biggest breakthroughs for any species… And we’ve pretty much wiped out the few remnants of indigenous culture that could have helped us recover self governance. The Iroquois Nation, for instance, that even inspired a few thoughts that went into our Constitution.
But what actually was the coup if JFK was in actuality an icon of something, not a powerful directive leader, not a new form of royalty (a term I heard tossed about back then) that could be of itself the change of course that only royalty can be, not just any pedestrian commoner in a community of democratic participants? In this atmosphere, what happens to a community of equals that can always come up with something iconic of itself out of its depths to replace the loss of a designated public servant manager of one of its Constitutionally defined institutions…?
If there is indeed a depth in our Americanism, if there is a quality that is only reflected in the leaders that are elected, then it doesn’t seem likely that one person can change the course of nation. On the other hand, if the public are more the followers, are of the authoritarian follower variety, then the leaders are by definition authoritarian leaders, and you have a different context to for a nation’s course to consider. I’m not trying to say those are the only options, there is surely more complexity in us than that. But I do have to wonder why any leader’s loss changes the course of a nation dramatically. After all, leaders like Hitler take followers where leader’s insanity may be inclined to take them. But isn’t that what we were trying to change after centuries of royalty, medievalist, feudalist leadership, and the chaos on our private lives of various forms of empire?
Enough Americans were at the very least naive enough to allow a secrecy state to arise within their government. Many of those who have protested this process, who’ve tried to reveal it, have faced publicly manipulative actions, like the McCarthy era witch hunts resulting in public punishment to cow the threat of anyone who might be so inclined. Perhaps it was the atmosphere of fear and war that preceded the Camelot imagery of those romantically characterized Kennedies. I could see how this could go with their monied class position and all that continues to remain of that in the New England of Old England where they reside in their elegant mansions living the really good life we all deserve (if we only were to work hard enough, or maybe be crooks but clever enough not to get caught).
In many ways they were a reflective element in an American Exceptionalist Dreamscape. It’s a dreamscape still with us that helps create illusion. Illusion that can cover a process that’s allowed the truth to be sealed accompanied by fifty years of conspiracy theories in the ever muddied waters. Now that’s symbolic, I would say.