I know, Friday is the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. It was a pivotal moment in many people’s lives. It changed the course of the 1960s and cruelly cut short the young life of a charismatic politician.
It is impolitic to say, if not downright rude, but I am sick of hearing about John F. Kennedy.
When JFK is mentioned on cable news, I jump for the remote. When he’s on a supermarket magazine cover, I swing to the latest checkout-line Kardashiana. A blog’s new conspiracy theory? Off to a different website.
Born in the late '60s, I have been subjected to the Kennedy myth my whole life. My Democratic mom chose my name in part to honor the 35th president and was horrified that my delivery date was right around Nov. 22. (Luckily for both of us, I was hatched the day before.) I can understand the deeper personal connection for Irish and Catholic Americans, but we were lowly Finnish Lutherans.
I grew up assuming Kennedy’s accomplishments ranked somewhere between Lincoln and Jesus, but the more I read, the more that view faded. He seemed a nice enough bloke: charming, educated and blessed with a photogenic family. But the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis, and his modest list of successes hardly merited hagiography. And let’s not even mention his horrifying private life.
In retrospect, Kennedy seems a more palatable Democrat than today’s crop of progs. He was anti-Communist, pro-Israel and suspicious of high taxes. He also said the right things about civil rights, though few actions followed.
Considering all the facts, why does Kennedy have such a hold on the American imagination? Why does America need to see story after story, book after book, film after film about a guy who was only in office for two-and-a-half years?
I don’t believe that 1951 was filled with movies on William McKinley’s assassination while Killing McKinley raced up bestseller lists. Some say that JFK’s death was the Boomer version of 9-11, but we don’t even see video of that dark day let alone detailed retrospectives.
Am I just being a grumpy Gen X-er or is the JFK worship completely overboard?
JFK portrait via thatsmymop / Shutterstock.com