I spent a lot of time in the car today, which meant plenty of radio time. As today is the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and I am a big fan of NPR, I heard three different segments remembering that day.
The first time, I teared up. Even though I wasn’t alive when JFK died – heck, my mom wasn’t even alive – the thought of all that he had left to do… all the promises that he was unable to keep… all of the maybes, should haves, could haves… simply brought pause to my morning. Who knows what would have happened but unfulfilled possibilities are one of the biggest tragedies in my opinion.
The second time I heard a remembrance of that day, I cried. I started thinking about the moments in my life that brought the nation together in total captivation and sadness. The Columbine shooting – which to me and my friends as middle schoolers felt all too real, all too possible to happen in our own community – and September 11th – where our entire world seemed to stop as everyone watched what we thought was our ideal world crumble.
The third time I heard a broadcast today, this one a replay of the broadcast Walter Cronkite did for the 40th anniversary, I wept. I am not ashamed to admit I had to pull off the highway or risk running off the road.
I didn’t weep for the nation’s past or my own few collective memories.
I wept for the current generation.
I wept because national tragedies like the one they were describing are far too common to children like my Little Sister.
I remember two moments where the nation stopped, the two mentioned above. Her generation has already seen so many horrific things that they barely notice when a tragedy of once inconceivable proportions takes place. Recent incidents like Sandy Hook give all of us pause for a few days, but it doesn’t take long for the entire country to move onto the next thing. Unimaginable heartbreak is practically the norm.
Listening to the broadcasts today, realizing how devastated the entire country was, I wept because I couldn’t imagine what would bring our entire society to a halt like that again.
I wept because our country is so divided right now, in so many ways, that I truly don’t think anything could bring us to our knees in that same way.
I’m not ashamed to cry. I’m not afraid to admit that the world we live in saddens me sometimes. But I’m also vowing to do a better job myself. To truly take notice, in both the tragedy and the celebration. To help those around me do the same. To teach those lessons to the next generation.
And I share this with you – a pretty heavy topic considering that I’ve posted twice in many, many months and the last post was about mayonnaise shaming – because I hope you’ll do that same.