The Day That Shook America

No, it wasn’t January 6, 2021.

In fact, it wasn’t even in this century.

The day that forever changed America, and from which we have never recovered, was November 22, 1963.

Back in college, I wrote an essay, Decade of Decadence, in which I noted that the Kennedy Assassination ushered in a ten year period of American political and social decay.

I was too short-sighted, as it turns out.

I was thirteen years old in 1963, so you might be correct in questioning the evaluation of memories from a teenager.

The fifties still lingered in Camelot. They may have, in fact, received a jolt of rejuvenation with the election of John Kennedy.

As he reminded us in his inauguration address, he was the first President born in the twentieth century. He saw America’s failures falling behind the Soviet Union in the space race and challenged the nation to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade.

The Civil Rights movement was growing and had the ear of a sensitive President.

We had only sent advisors to Viet Nam, and there is no telling what would have happened if Kennedy had lived, but there is reason to believe that he would not have escalated the conflict as had Lyndon Johnson.

But who knows?

Kennedy was killed by an American citizen and very few people, even today, accept the Warren Commission’s account, which had investigated the assassination. Many people believe that Oswald did not act alone.

This was when Americans were introduced to doubt.

This is when Americans legitimately questioned what their leaders were told them.

Years later, we learned they lied to us about Viet Nam.

Lying about the need to wage war was a bi-partisan disease, as our Gulf Wars’ long history has shown.

We have been lied to in all sorts of endeavors, not just politics.

Religious leaders have shown to be the biggest liars. Whether in the form of shielding pedophiles or merely conning donations from poor people so that megachurches can be built and their preachers live the life of a wealthy Pharisee.

We were even lied to regarding America’s pastime.

Baseball players were taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDS) for years, and team owners and sportswriters were (or should have been ) fully aware of this. But players who hit home runs filled ballparks and reaped substantial television deals, and sold newspapers.

Suddenly, they found religion and were appalled and aghast at players breaching the sanctity of their sport and shattering records set by men of character dedicated to truth, justice, and the American way.

So, when another leader tells Americans that the election was rigged and that he was victorious in a landslide, accepting yet another lie is a piece of cake.

We’ve grown so accustomed to being lied to that we wind up believing nothing or everything. Maybe we believe the last thing we hear.

Some believe that COVID-19 is a hoax, but they still want to get the vaccine.

Anti-vaxxers are tired of being lied to, so they don’t believe medical science promotes vaccines as safe and efficacious therapies for all sorts of treatable illnesses.

We hear of such terms as “alternative truth” and “alternative reality.”

So, back to Philosophy 101, we go:

What is truth?

What is real?

On that Friday afternoon in 1963, the only thing I doubted was whether the New York Giants were going to win that Sunday.

But that doubt was quickly replaced by others.

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