For most baby boomers, the first seminal event in our lives — something we’ll never forget — is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We remember where we were and how we heard about it. So does our friend, communications specialist Larry Checco of Silver Spring, Maryland. Now that it’s 52 years behind us, Larry looks back and writes a piece about JFK with a simple title: Ask Not.
Sophomore year in high school. Sitting near the back of the room in Latin 1 class desperately trying to conjugate verbs — amo, amas, amat. Eagerly awaiting the lunch bell to ring.
A student messenger walks into the room and quietly says something to our Latin teacher, Mr. T., who had a reputation for being passionate — and having a volatile temper.
Quick as flash, Mr. T. jumps to his feet, extends all of his 6’ 5”, 220-plus pound body over the demur female student messenger, his face flush with anger — and erupts!
“You go back to Mr. B. and you tell him I don’t mind arguing politics with him in the teachers’ lounge, but to send you into my classroom to tell me something like that is totally inexcusable,” he yells at the messenger, now nearly in tears and trembling in her patent leather shoes.
Moments later our school principal sadly announces over the school-wide intercom system, “President Kennedy has been shot in Dallas, Texas.”
If a pin had fallen in the room at that moment it would have sounded like a bomb going off.
The date: Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, a seminal day in the life of nearly every boomer.
That day, and the eventful weekend that followed — not the least of which was watching Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald in real-time on TV— was shocking enough.
The jarring fact is that all this occurred 52 years ago now, a stunning reminder of just how fast our boomer lives have gone bye.
Hell, most people living on planet Earth today weren’t even alive then, let alone do they have any vividly searing memories of President Kennedy’s assassination. For many of them, 9/11 is the first seminal event.
I was 15-years-old at the time, full of spit and vinegar. Inspired by JFK , I worked hard to take my relatively small bite out of life, with varying degrees of success and failure.
Now, at age 67, my goals for the future are far more modest and mellow than they were 50-plus years ago. Now I’m working hard to stay as healthy, cheerful, plugged in — and relevant— for as long as my time, energy, and cognitive abilities will allow.
More, I ask not.
Larry Checco © 2015