A somber anniversary

Monday, November 24, 2014

With each passing year, fewer Americans can immediately answer the question, "What major event happened on Nov. 22, 1963?"

For those old enough to recall that date, it is known as one of those moments of history that happen maybe once every two or three decades, when the world suddenly and irreversibly changes.

Before that date, there was an optimism in our country's future and a confidence in our ability to overcome any challenge, an optimism and confidence and perhaps a naiveté that haven't been equaled in America since.

That was a period of relative peace for our country. We were well past the conclusion of the Korean War and not yet aware of the looming morass awaiting us in Vietnam, where we had a small number of soldiers operating under the euphemism of "military advisors."

It was a time when the American public could still be excited and awed by such dreams as going to the moon, unlike six years later when the actual event seemed anti-climactic to a more jaded public.

The time before Nov. 22, 1963, cannot exactly be called an age of innocence (we were experiencing a bitter struggle over Civil Rights), but most Americans shared a common vision of a perpetually improving future.

The assassination of John F. Kennedy over a half century ago changed not only our nation but also all those who remember it.