November 22, 1963 was a Friday, like today. We’re minutes away from the 50th anniversary of that day. That day and the next 3 days we watched TV, and tried to comprehend. Every chronological event of those 3 days moved us further into incomprehension.
The president has been shot, the president has died, Walter Cronkite taking off his glasses, the catch in his voice, the swearing in on the plane of a new president with a southern accent.
The casket, the widow behind a veil, the rotunda, the mourners.
The movie theater, the dead policeman, the small sandy-haired guy with a black eye and a Russian wife, the grunt when he was shot.
The flag-draped casket, the horses, the drums, the widow, the brothers, the street, the salute.
We lost a president that day, but had no comprehension of how much we had lost, and how much more we were going to lose.
I’ve tried to write about this, but all I can bring is nouns, names. I don’t know if Kennedy and his brother and Martin Luther King could have saved us from what was to come, but I know we became more vulnerable.
John. Martin. Bobby. Malcom
Michael, Andrew and James
Selma, Vietnam Mai Lai, Cambodia
Cuba Iran Chile Nicaragua Iraq Afghanistan
Civil rights voter rights gerrymandering filibusters
TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.