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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Friday, November 22, 2013

John Fitzgerald Kennedy
35th President of the United States

We fondly remember

In Canada President Kennedy was seen as our President too. We followed him, his family and Presidency with great fascination and admiration. We too, answered the idealistic call and came to believe that life can be better and we can and should try to make a difference.  I say this because I do not think American's appreciate how much Canadians know about and share in what goes on in the United States. We only wish Americans gave Canada a thought once in a while and knew more about our great Nation, which is quite distinct in many ways culturally from the United States.  This week we were amused as some Harvard Students stopped in Harvard Yard could not name the capital city of Canada.  Finally, one student knew and she turned out to be a Canadian studying at Harvard.  So much for the best and the brightest.

The idealism of the Kennedy years saw Canada elect it own political hero in Pierre Elliot Trudeau as Trudeaumania  swept the country.

Canadians alongside Americans were shocked and heart broken by the death of President Kennedy. I remember the day well. I was alone driving from Waterloo, where I went to University, to home in Mississauga, where I grew up. I listened on the radio and then spent the weekend watching the events on TV.  For me and a lot of my friends in Canada and the United States this was the beginning of a long line of violent deaths of our political and social heroes: Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr,  Ché Guevara, Malcolm X.  It has been enough to make one cynical.

It is so appropriate that Norman Rockwell painted him. His short Presidency was not unlike a Rockwell painting.  It was idealized, delightful and inspiring as to what we thought it should be.  Flaws were overlooked.

President Kennedy was an inspiration for a generation, my generation which was just becoming politically aware..  He asked that we be the best we can be. He asked us all to get involved in shaping civil society. It was in his short Presidency that the vision of the Space Program was offered as a challenge to the Nation.  Also, the Peace Corp was born and saw a generation of young people trying to serves people around the World and in so doing learning of life beyond the boundaries of the United States.He did lay to rest the notion that the United States is a Protestant country although he continues to be the only non-protestant President after all these years. Reluctantly, but decisively, he made contributions to the civil rights struggle, which was left for Johnson to realize.And, or course, we vicariously shared in his personal life of privilege, family and public service.

His short Presidency  and his personal life was flawed  but we overlooked or forgave that at the time. During his presidency there was the failure of the Bay of Pigs and the near disastrous Cuban Missile Crisis. He being an ardent anti-communist resulted in the wrong headed blockade of Cuba that persists today. If a Russian officer on a submarine had not disobey an order to fire nuclear weapons, history and the US would have had a different outcome.  Kennedy can take little credit for avoiding a nuclear war.  He misused the idealism of youth to get the United States deeply involved in the failed Vietnam War.  If Kennedy had survived for a second term,  we might very well have come to be more critical of him and his policies in the same way that Barack Obama has become somewhat of a disappointment. His inspirational legacy survives.

We need more than ever a Kennedy like  leader of the World who can inspire us and rally us to act our of idealism to save the planet from the blight of human activity. The World still looks to America to supply such a leader.


At 10:03 a.m., Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Nice writing, Philip.

At 10:33 a.m., Blogger judie said...

Nice post Philip. Last one too.

At 6:22 p.m., Blogger possum said...

Excellent post. Good thoughts.
I still wonder who actually killed him.
Lots of material has been declassified not that 50 years has passed. INTERESTING READING.

At 9:48 a.m., Blogger Owen Gray said...

Despite his flaws, Philip, he is sorely missed.

At 3:26 p.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

Thanks for giving us a little insight into how Canada views us here in the U.S., Phiip.
I love having a few Canadian blogger friends and hope I live long enough and am well enough to visit some day.

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