When in Melbourne recently on holiday I stumbled upon a market stand selling old vinyl LPs. Amongst the usual stacks of horrid 80’s new wave and greatest polka hits I found a gem… John Fitzgerald Kennedy - a Memorial Album. Still is great condition, it had obviously been played only a few times, and maybe hadn’t tracked a needle for 30 years. It contained highlights of his more famous speeches from before & during his presidency.
I sat down to listen to it that night. I had always had a fascination for JFK. Although I was an infant when he died, I entered the JFK universe at an early age. Of course, the Zapruder film of the assassination grabs the attention initially. One is then bewildered by the official story. Next there’s the grappling with the myriad conspiracy theories. Then, as I listened to the vinyl recording in whole and in context, there came a profound sense of loss.
Now, let’s not misunderstand. JFK was not a saint. He was a Catholic, and I don’t believe he was particularly pious or religious. Yet, here was a leader, not a politician, addressing mankind, not voters. His appeal was directed to the humanity shared between the free world and the Soviets. He called on men of good will to strive for the greater endeavours, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. He didn’t speak like other politicians or leaders I had grown up with. He didn’t carefully phrase things to avoid repercussions or to win votes. He didn’t regurgitate the party policy. He saw it as his mission to save the world from the madness of nuclear self destruction, and put his money where his mouth was during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
As I listened to his words, I could see the daggers being pulled from their scabbards. I could see the demons commit to his destruction. As he addressed men of good will, he also addressed those of ill will. His course would make enemies in the Federal Reserve, the war mongers, the military industrial complex, the bankers, white racists, soviet lovers and haters.
For those of us, both then and now, who felt that he spoke and still speaks for us, the men of good will, he was like a lightning conductor. He attracted the demonic bolt, he took the shot that would otherwise come our way.
For me, JFK was the last real president, the last true leader of the free world. On this day in Dealey Plaza 50 years ago, the office of President was seized by those in the shadows. In the time that has prevailed, those in the shadows have dangled presidential puppets for our amusement and for their purpose, pulling the strings this way and that. None dare challenge the darkness, lest the same fate befall them. That was the message delivered to all successors at Dealey Plaza on that day.
JFK knew well what he faced. He had no doubt about the insidious nature of his foes. He spoke about them in his “Secret Societies” speech. This speech never made it onto the vinyl Memorial Album. Nobody wanted to memorialize that.
JFK may not be with us today, but men of good will inspired by his spirit still abound in their millions and if they choose as one to challenge the darkness, cannot be resisted.