Years of Thunder, Days of Drums
November 23, 2015 9 Comments
It was fifty-two years ago yesterday that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. For those of us alive and old enough to understand, it was very much like 9/11. I doubt any of us have forgotten what it felt like. But I’m not just talking about Americans, for one reason or another, he was loved by so many people around the world.
I look back and like all presidents, some of his policies I think were correct, perhaps outstanding, while others wrong, perhaps abysmal. But that only says that he was a man, and like all politicians, he had to get elected. But even as a child, and I was in a small elementary school in northwest Indiana that black Friday, we all, I think, saw in him much of the best of America, young, vibrant, personable, witty, and yes, good-looking. Very much what we all hoped to be. And that I think is the key to much. He was what the world wanted to be as well.
By that time he had been tried by fire, about 13 months before, he had faced down the Soviets in the Cuban missile crises, we didn’t know it then, of course, but time would prove that this was the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union. perhaps Brezhnev knew, it’s still hard to picture a Soviet Premier going to the American Embassy in Moscow to sign the Memorial book. But he did. Westminster Abbey used the same toll of the bells that it uses for a King of England, and it was much the same around the world.
We wanted to commemorate him, so the United states Information System made a film, to be shown only outside the US, a later Act of Congress allowed its showing here as well. It is called Years of Thunder, Days of Drums, and this is it after it has been restored by HBO.
You know, if he was running next year, I just might vote for the man that said this:
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. [..]
We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed. […]
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.
Days of Drums, indeed, in the quiet of the night those muffled drums still echo in my heart, and I wonder if we would have been different, or not, if he survived.