Ode To Camelot

Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 08:59 AM.

To be brutally honest here, I was more impressed with my new driver’s license and the freedom it afforded me, than the rights of East Berliners that I didn’t know. I didn’t keep up with who JFK appointed as Secretary of State or Attorney General. We were more into how to beat Huntingdon on Friday night than what movie stars were dropping in on the Kennedys or what dress Jackie was wearing to the latest state dinner.

We did hold our breaths, and then cheer, as our President backed down the Castro government, and to a much larger extent, the Soviet Union over the Cuban Missile crisis. That was a close one! We cheered again when Kennedy stood by the Brandenburg Gate in the summer of 1963 and invited any in the world who thought they could work with the communists, “Let them come to Berlin”. Wow, not bad for a guy who Nixon had repeatedly warned us was weak on international affairs!

I was sitting with John Ingram and Larry Ridinger in study hall up on the third floor of the old high school. Coach Smith came on the loud speaker, “I have something serious to tell you.” He had our immediate attention because he didn’t blow into the microphone and say “can I have your attention, can I have your attention” like he normally did. “I don’t want anyone to panic. The President of the United States has just been shot in Dallas.” 

Stunned wasn’t the word as we looked at each other. Neither was disbelief or astonishment. It simply couldn’t have happened! No way on earth! As we raced toward the TV in the auditorium people were stone silent. And many were crying; including Walter Cronkite when he gave us the definitive news.

I don’t know about Camelot, nirvana, Shangri-la……but I can tell you, it had been a pretty good time to be an American!

The change wasn’t immediate; or perceptible at the moment. But it came. The sadness of the event still lingers. The confusion of the Warren Report and a hundred conspiracy theories and the political and social unrest of what was left of the sixties are still being felt to this day.

We lost our innocence.

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