09 June 2015

52nd Anniversary of John F. Kennedy Address To the Nation On Civil Rights 11 June 1963

I remember seeing this broadcast live on one of the three black and white network television channels that evening.  I don't think a younger reader can really sense how unusual and remarkable this was.  In taking on the deeply embedded forces for injustice, Kennedy was engaging in a revolutionary act for justice, that certainly cost him politically, and probably much more than that. 
Despite any personal failings, which despite his office he had, as he was still a man, he was unmistakably driven by principles and a sense of honour and obligation to rise above himself, to do the right thing, because it was the right thing to do.

We take a lot for granted now, and tend to romanticize 'the good old days.' There were some good, and some bad. For they were just days, from which we made what we could from what we had and what we could bring.

There were severe racial tensions, an abundance of obvious injustice and inequality, recent memories of WW II and Korea, and a real and continuing fear of nuclear war. These were presences in our young, daily lives. And of course I was there for the rebellion and idealism of youth. Where is it now. Not in the young of this new generation, but in us.

We have lost a little ground on equality perhaps. And as our founding fathers themselves noted in their older age about the new generation, there certainly remains the need for a continuing commitment to the principles on which we have established this Republic.