I was sat in a class with thirty three other teenagers in a geography lesson most of who were waiting for the year 1964 when at the age of 15 we could leave school and enter the world of the grown ups.
The date was 22 November 1963 and it was in this lesson that the teacher – Mr Waddington – announced that the President of the United States of America one John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been assassinated.
Well today is the fifty fifth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination and in spite of the very large number of conspiracy theories, books and even films that have been produced since we are no nearer finding out what really happened apart that is that President Kennedy was shot and killed.
I have no intention of adding to the debate but it has got me thinking about what has happened in the years since and how things have changed especially regarding those who serve in public office.
It also got me thinking about anniversaries and especially in light of the perception that an anniversary should be a celebratory event.
It is a historical fact that this year, in fact this month 100 years ago saw the end of World War One which along with remembrance was and you would think should be an event to celebrate.
The reality is of course that those historical events that were formerly celebrated are now in the 21st century being re-interpreted and in place of celebration is approbation.
One example is in the USA who for centuries have celebrated the event in 1492 when Christopher Columbus stumbled across and landed on the shores of San Salvador.
What used to be an all out American celebratory party is now thought of as more of a Memorial Day in which the discovery and occupation of the continent led to the almost annihilation of the indigenous population – those the invaders, for that is who they were called “Indians”.
And yes I also recognise that it is exactly – or at least very similar – to how the British Empire as it then was, was formed.
I suppose one aspect that the British and incidentally also the French as conquerors realised was that it would be sensible to allow the subjected people’s keep the majority of their “binding customs and self-sufficient society” and all of their religions.
Perhaps the realisation that conquered nations did not all want to be British or French is one that those who aspire to build an empire or to be the most powerful nation would do well to understand.
So the recognition of Columbus Day in the USA has dramatically changed as the truth of the European immigrant invasion of America is being increasingly recognised and even taught in a number of schools.
It would be ironic if the United Kingdom celebrated the invasion by Europeans of these islands by William the Bastard – more commonly known as William the Conqueror – in 1066.
But back to the subject, that of the assassination of John F Kennedy.
Incidentally why do we refer to the killing of a statesman or monarch as an assassination and anyone else as a murder?
John F Kennedy to those of us who were young at the time epitomised the future that we believed was going to be a new golden age of prosperity.
If his death did one positive thing it certainly helped the publishing industry and film industry which doesn’t seem to have abated over the past 55 years and especially in the last decade with an increase in nostalgia for what might have been.
In fact a whole industry has been built up around the events leading up to and following the incident that took place on the 26th November 1963.
What – and I understand why – the people are nostalgic for is a return to a time when for all of his flaws the President of the United States of America was seen as an honest noble and brave patriotic warrior – he served with distinction in the US military – leading a nation into a brave new era and world where the USA was respected across the globe.
It was a time when America was seen if not as a Great Nation certainly one that was on the cusp of being universally respected.
I wonder how if he had lived he would have viewed the current state of the world and the world leaders.
I suspect he would – like me and many of those of my generation – be less than impressed.
Isn’t it strange that having shown the desire to elect a fresh faced honourable hero figure in the 1960’s the people – at least through the USA electoral system – in the 21st century have chosen to elect exactly the opposite as their President.
I now know as his life has become increasingly revealed that John F Kennedy was something of a fraud building about him an illusion that has become a mythology of Camelot proportions however there is no doubt that at the time I and many in my generation bought into the illusion.
One thing I’ve never bought into is the conspiracy theories that Kennedy was killed on the orders of the USSR, China, FBI, CIA etc, etc rather than a lone madman called Lee Harvey Oswald.
Whatever the truth, today is the 55th anniversary of his death and given the standard of the leadership being displayed by the current leadership of the USA – and the U.K. – it was or at least appears to also have been the death of something else – namely true Democracy.