It’s 1am on Tuesday, November 23rd as I write this, and I am left to ponder the end of yet another day. Another day of unemployment, of attempting to better myself by reading three books at once, and as I occasionally turn on the television to poke my head into an endless news stream, it is another day of speculating as to what the future might hold.
Yet the close of this day, November 22nd, 2010 necessitates an expansion upon my usual mental meanderings. Even as pundits have spent the day preoccupied with pornographic pat-downs, political turf wars, and investigations into the unmitigated greed of hedge fund managers, this day demands that I reflect upon the not-so-distant past that for all intents and purposes seems to have gone relatively unnoticed: The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Perhaps it no longer seems relevant to reflect upon the legacy of JFK and what we have come to lovingly refer to as Camelot. The few tidbits that have been doled out on the subject today have focused on the conspiracy theories surrounding his death that so many revel in. I suppose this is all that would fit neatly into the 24-hour incendiary news cycle.
So, let me take a moment to focus a narrow lens on the finest achievements of President Kennedy, because the real tragedy of a life lost does not come with physical death, but with the death of the reflection on its value and meaning:
– Nuclear Test Ban Treaty: Paved the way for crucial dialogue regarding nuclear weapons that continues to this day in the form of the new START treaty. Signed by President Obama on April 8th, 2010, the treaty now languishes among careless obstructionists in the Senate.
– Space Program: On May 25th, 1961, Kennedy presented the lunar landing program to Congress that would carry Neil Armstrong’s feet safely to the surface of the moon. These first steps in space have inspired humankind to build a space station and set our sights on sending a new coterie of astro-pioneers to Mars.
– Peace Corps: Arguably the most successful government-sponsored humanitarian effort in human history. In creating it, Kennedy established a powerful movement for change that continues to