22, two reflections for november 1963

22 Nov

‘There they are…there are the Oswalds. Let’s get them.’
It was November 22, 1963 and Donald (my twin brother) and I were ten years old. We had just moved into a new Brooklyn neighbourhood with my mother, father and five year old sister, Susan. New neighbourhood, new home; new school, Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic primary school.

We were the new kids on the block.

John Kennedy was idolized by Roman Catholics. His picture was everywhere. Catholics in the 1960s States were viewed as ‘suspicious.’ We couldn’t be trusted. And whom would a Roman Catholic President owe his first allegiance to, the Pope or his country?

But good looks, a pretty picture book family, being a hero in World War II South Pacific Theatre, all these can cover a multitude of sin.

And being really wealthy helps too.

So I was in a new primary school class when Kennedy was shot. He was in Dallas in an open convertible car. The nuns announced the news over the loud speaker.

Everything stopped.
Everyone was quiet.
No one moved or knew what to do. The Nuns dismissed all classes early from school they were so distraught. They were praying he was still alive.

He wasn’t.

Donald and I left the school. Somehow the Nuns must have announced Lee Harvey Oswald’s name over the loud speaker. Boys in the school got it. They didn’t miss it.
So Donald and I were chased by a gang of ten plus year Catholic uniformed boys through our new streets of Brooklyn. We were new and our last name sounded the same as Lee Harvey’s. I used to get a lot of questions on this bit. ‘Are you related?’ No more.

‘Let’s split-they can’t follow us both.’

We did. They caught up to Donald and beat him up. It wasn’t too bad though. They were just at the beginning of being angry. Just beginning.

I didn’t know it then, but the real anger in America was building from that day the 22 of November.
Vietnam, Civil Rights, Peace movement, assassinations of Dr King and JFK’s brother, Bobby. Newtown. World trade. Iraq. Lone gunmen.

50 years and it is still building.

I am 60 now and pray one thing: I pray Ephesians 3:20 for my native country -Lord do more than I can ask or imagine-please begin gun control in America in my lifetime. Just begin gun control; just a start. That’s enough.

22:
reflections of a 23 year old Brit on the Assassination of JFK
What does JFK’s death mean to me?

Initially, nothing. Along time ago, a long way away a Man was assassinated.

Then I do the Maths and I realise that it has changed everything. Two men, three bullets, fifty years and billions of lives changed by the shift in systems and structures that resulted from that one historic day.

Today we are not merely remembering a tragic event that happened 50 years ago. We are remembering a tragic event that happened fifty years ago and continues to impact my world today. The tragedy continues. Fifty years on the assassination impacts me, the society I’m part of, the policies I live under, the security that’s seeped into our state. It’s all largely determined by the events that went before us.

The lesson I’m taking from the 50th memorial of JFK’s assassination? Today shapes tomorrow, but crucially, today also shapes 2063. How can my actions today, make tomorrow a better day? How can my actions today make 2063 a better world?

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One Response to “22, two reflections for november 1963”

  1. Jack Flacco November 23, 2013 at 1:12 am #

    I grew up in the 70s hearing about JFK on the news. I can’t believe how many specials there were back then about the conspiracy to kill the president. Most of them were off the wall, but some had some credence. Nonetheless, there was always this constant respect for the man regardless what his policies were. He certainly had a charm that few presidents, if any, possessed thereafter.

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