Sunday, November 22, 2015
"...For One Brief, Shining Moment...Every Twelve Months..."
To most people born after, say, 1955. just another number on the calendar, inspiring little or no emotion with the possible exception of the first tremblings of the hustle and bustle of holiday madness just up the road.
For those born before that year, though, some inevitable thought and reflection.
Bobby Braddock is an acclaimed, award winning country songwriter and a Facebook friend.
He posted this articulate and moving remembrance on his page today.
Fifty two years ago today,, around noontime, on a sunny but slightly chilly day in Dallas, the 35th President of the United States was assassinated at 46 years of age. I was a very young piano player, about to drive away from the motel where I was living in Orlando, Florida, on my way to a band rehearsal at the El Patio Club where we were playing. The lady who ran the motel yelled out that Kennedy had been shot. Her live-in boyfriend, a grizzly old redneck guy, hollered, "I hope they killed the n*****-lovin' sonofabitch!" By the time I had driven the two-minute ride down Orange Blossom Trail to the club, they announced on the radio that the president was dead. That night, the normally-packed club had a sparse crowd. We played mostly slow dance numbers and knocked off early. On the day of the president's funeral, I went into a jewelry store in my hometown to pick up a watch that had been repaired. A TV set was on, and the only sound was that of drum rolls and horses' hooves. I listened to network radio on my 45-minute drive back to Orlando, and except for the occasional soft voice of the announcer, it was those same sad drum rolls and horses' hooves the entire trip. I was an infant when Pearl Harbor was bombed, so the JFK assassination was the first national tragedy in my memory. It was a time I will never forget.
Other Facebook pages, especially those devoted to either Kennedy nostalgia or assassination minutiae, are offering up a lot of reminiscence today.
None of the major news sites and/or sources have much to say about the date, a random mention of it and its historical significance, here and there, the only acknowledgment to be seen or heard.
Because there comes a time, with every event in this life, when that event, without fanfare, sometimes with no notice at all, quietly slides over from the here and now to the once upon a time.
Even the most dynamic, dramatic, even history altering moments have a way of, slowly but surely, moving from the front pages to the back pages to the little cards in the drawers with the Dewey Decimals printed on them.
Or tagged links on Google, as the case, and the forward march of technological advance, may be.
November 22 has become one of those events.
That's the paradox of the blessing of time healing all wounds.
Scars remain for the life of those who felt the blade.
But memories fade.
Tears of grief and loss eventually dry to be replaced with tears of joy and laughter.
And lives sometimes become legend.
Nobody understood that better than Jackie Kennedy.
"...so now he is a legend," she remarked sometime during that emotional and historic weekend, "when he would have preferred to be a man..."
And part of that legend was the framing of that life in the romantic haze of Camelot.
That framing done by Jackie herself in an interview with author Theodore White some weeks after the assassination.
The nation was stunned and needed to be consoled and soothed.
The thought of a young King, complete with beloved Queen, adorable Princess and Prince, struck down in blinding Texas sunlight at the height of his powers and the peak of his youth was just Shakespearean enough to be both crushing...and consoling....sorrowful...and soothing.
As memories faded.
Tears of grief and loss dried and were eventually replaced with tears of joy and laughter.
And life became legend.
The day John Kennedy died, two reporter acquaintances of the murdered President were consoling one another.
"We'll never laugh again," she remarked.
He replied, "oh, we'll laugh again. We'll just never be young again."
Those of us who were alive at the time will surely agree that, of the two of them, he was right.
We started laughing again.
But we did get, and are still getting, a little older every day.
And, as it happens with getting older, we forget things from time to time.
Like names...and numbers...even dates.
But some things we still manage to remember, too.
Like names...and numbers...
...and November 22.