I have always been fascinated by former President John Kennedy. He is the first President that I remember. I recall how frightened my Mother and Father were during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962. I heard my parents talking about the possibility of ‘the bombs’ and the fact that we did not have a ‘bomb shelter.’
Tomorrow, November 22, 2016, will mark fifty-three years since President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas…shortly after noon. I was six years old and in first grade…and Mrs. Kittinger announced to our class that President Kennedy had been shot. School ended for the day and I walked home to the big…cold…scary house that we had moved to in Eldorado, Illinois.
My Mom was weeping. When I asked her why she told me that President Kennedy had died. I was amazed that my mother was so emotionally moved by the President of the United States death…I wondered if we were related to him.
For much of the rest of my childhood our Country was filled with unease. I watched Walter Cronkite announce each evening on the CBS Evening News the American fatalities for that day. My cousin was drafted. I was sure that when I became of age…that I would be drafted and sent to Vietnam as well.
In school we had ‘bomb drills’ where we either crawled under our desk or when we became larger we exited into the hallway and knelt against the wall and covered our heads with our hands.
Today, there is a significant amount of disquiet in our land. Americans from many different walks of life fear that our beloved country will no longer fulfill the wonderful poem written by Emma Lazarus in ‘1883 to raise money for the construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty,’ wikipedia.
The Poem is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty Pedestal and reads in part, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of you’re teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’
Thanksgiving is a time of thankfulness and renewal and re-energizing.
It is a time to realize our many blessings…and to think about those in need…and to resolve to help lessen the suffering of our fellow human beings.
Let us all realize that the success of our Great Country has never been about a President…no matter how charismatic he might be…but it has been about our inclusiveness and working and struggling together…much as our wonderful troops did in World War II.
The secret of the United States Success is the acceptance and transformation of ‘the huddled masses yearning to breath free…the wretched refuse…the homeless and the tempest-tost!’
If; Bigotry…Xenophobia…Misogyny…Respect for the Disabled…’Standing Rock’ and the horrible manner our government treats our Native Americans…has given us concern…it is up to us to do your part to make it better. No political leader will ever solve those Herculean problems for us.
As President Kennedy admonished us at his Inauguration… so many years ago…’My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Country.’
The Quakers say, ‘Speak Truth to Power.’