Say what you will about different presidents…I remember when John Kennedy was president, we all dreamed of how great it must be to be in politics and to be involved in the great decisions of the day.
He was an inspiring man, a very inspiring man, particularly for young adults. Obama can deliver inspiring rhetoric, but Kennedy was an inspiring leader.
He made you want to get involved, not in politics, but in "public service", which was how the Kennedy family referred to it. People wanted to join the Peace Corps, they were excited about the prospect of landing on the moon, and, at least for those of us in the North, we were heartened to see him face down a defiant governor, and federalize the Alabama National guard, so that black students could enter some of the previously all white schools in that state, helping to lessen the continuing ugliness of institutionalized racism, and inspiring us in the fight for civil rights. We really did feel "the torch has been passed to a new generation", and the youthful Kennedy was that generation, and we felt we would be too. He inspired hope and strengthened commitment to ideals.
Even my grandmother was so moved by Kennedy that she had a framed photo of him on the wall in her home.
And there was so much good-natured humor directed at him, and enjoyed by us. Do you remember this LP record...
I don't know how many times my family enjoyed listening to that record, and laughing each time. And, beside humor, it generated warmth and good feelings.
For those who don't remember...
The First Family is a comedy album recorded on October 22, 1962, as a good-natured parody of President John F. Kennedy, both as Commander-in-Chief and as a member of a large, well-known political family. Issued by Cadence Records, it was honored as the "largest and fastest selling record in the history of the record industry" selling at more than a million copies per week for the first six and one-half weeks in distribution, by January it had sold more than 7 million copies. Cadence president Archie Bleyer credited the album's success to radio airplay. By time of the release of The First Family - Volume Two, the sequel, it had sold 7.5 million copies — unprecedented for any album at the time, let alone a comedy album.
I heard one commentator this week say that the Warren Commission Report, and the controversy it generated, was the start of the government mistrust which has continued ever since. It was a more innocent time prior to Kennedy's assassination, in so many ways. And so much was lost when that shot was fired in Dallas.