October 1962-October 2012: Fifty years of America



     We suspect that many of you who frequent these pages are not spring chickens and at least a few recall the events of October 1962.  Those days were an amazing combination of  headiness and fear for the youth of America.  We were the children of the Greatest Generation.  Our country had emerged from Westward expansion, internal strife, the Industrial Revolution and two World Wars as one of, if not the, greatest civilizations in the history of the world.  We were still a work in progress, but since mid-century we had made so much of it, progress that is, that it seemed there was nothing we couldn’t do.  We had it all – brains, brawn, ingenuity, resources and a can-do attitude, with God on our side.  There was only one little problem (the civil rights issues were only nascent politically and hadn’t yet been clearly defined).  We were only one of two superpowers (we thought) in the world and we were living in the age of Mutual Assured Destruction.

Some time ago a crazy dream came to me
I dreamt I was walkin’ into World War Three
I went to the doctor the very next day
To see what kinda words he could say
He said it was a bad dream

     We watched and listened and read in horrified fascination as Khruschev and Castro hatched their little scheme to threaten the USA with nuclear missiles .  And we both sighed in relief and cheered as our brave President backed them down. (Admit it, some of you were Democrats back then, weren’t you?  And regardless, he was the President of all of us then, perhaps the last time America as a united people have felt that way about their leader; indeed, perhaps the last time America has been united; those heady days of the Cold War, when the enemy carried a flag.)  Sure, we found out later some back-room deals were made, but there were no threatening ICBM’s in the Western Hemisphere.

     Yes, even as we listened to the troubadour poet sing his Talkin’ World War Three Blues and wondered what the pesky Russkies would try next, we had a victory under our belt.  From having botched the Bay of Pigs to backing down the Communist threat,  our leader had grown in office and though we were later treated to accounts of his faults, none of us….none of us …. doubted at that time that he was decent, honorable, a God-fearing Christian and a patriot.  And a visionary.  Oh, the inspiration; oh the plans; oh, the magnificent uplifting speeches; and, yes, oh, the respectful partisanship.

     What a ride the last fifty years have been, huh?  You’d have to have hundreds of gigabytes of storage space to chronicle it all.  Kennedy promised us the moon, and we got it.  We got a lot of other stuff, too; a lot of stuff we didn’t want; and a lot we thought we wanted but didn’t.  We had some victories along with the defeats, and the tragedies.  A few good men stood up and reduced the number of superpowers from two to one,  and many of us laughed at how apprehensive we had been in those heady, fearful days of 1962.  The Bear had been a paper Bear after all and went away with a whimper, or so some would say.

      Better chroniclers than us have described the American half-century and the wits and the sages have filled the shelves of the Library of Congress with explanations, approbations and reprobations.  In the end, we suppose, it was all of our achievement and all of our fault.  But where do we find ourselves today?  For those of us who, as we alluded to earlier, are ‘getting on in years’, is there not some kind of return to the uncertainty of fifty years ago?   It seems to manifest itself mainly in the areas of economics, fortune, social well-being and the like, for we do not face an enemy that carries a flag or, we sincerely hope, has thousands of Inter- Continental Ballistic Missiles tipped with atomic weapons, though we are surely under seige by radical Islamic Jihad.  For our part, looking out over the landscape, we sense more pessimism than optimism in America.  And we sense a foreboding of loss of more than just Gross Domestic Product.

Well, now time passed and now it seems
Everybody’s having them dreams
Everybody sees themselves
Walkin’ around with no one else

     Some call the 20th Century the American Century. Students of history can attest to that, but we speak here today of the American half-century because it was the fifty years when the United States of America was at its peak, and because it is the half-century we lived through.  But it is also the fifty years during which that spirit, that American spirit, started ebbing.  Just a little bit and just at times.  Then sometimes in fits and spurts; then revived and refreshed; and then losing steam, like air going out of a balloon.  As we approach the fifty-year anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis  we also approach another marker – the end of the first term of the man who has been called the first ‘post-American’ president.  By October of 2012 we should have a pretty good handle on the probability of the ‘post-American experiment’  continuing.

      A lot can happen in eighteen months.  Stars can be born.  The fruits of labors can begin to ripen.  The course of human events can lead to the ties that bind.  Many who count themselves as patriots can look around at others and see the possibility of building a new American Church of Unification (apologies to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon).   And the children of the Greatest Generation can join with the grandchildren  of the Greatest Generation in opposition to the greatest threat to America since the Cuban missile crisis -  the re-election of Barack Hussein Obama.  For not since Khruschev, who famously threatened “we will bury you”, has there existed an entity in the world with the means to do so.  The current threat intends to bury us with debt, taxation and regulation, as well as the suspension of freedoms and civil liberties unheard of in the American experience.  For this cabal, and you all know it’s many names and guises, intends that  the American dream ends by hook or crook or executive order, regardless of the results of legislative contests.

     How to escape our worst fears?  How escape the nightmare of a new Assured Destruction?  Well, by joining with others in common cause, as we mentioned above; joining with ourselves and our posterity to insure that our dream shall not perish from the earth.  And to share.  Share those things that we experienced in the American half-century, the good and the bad.  Much note has been made that the “Greatest” didn’t like to speak much about the past, both out of modesty and also not wanting to relive or impose painful memories and burdens.  So in their twilight years there has been a push to get them to go on the record.  We have a suspicion that we Children of the Greatest may also be reticent in the sharing department.  It may be time to overcome that.  It may be time to both fess up to our fears and our faults, as well as our wants and our wishes,  and to claim our own place in the historical record.  The I, Me, My generations of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s have not been shy about expressing their outward needs.  But their inner bearings and attitudes, their hopes for America and not just themselves,  have not been so readily displayed.  We can find common ground, for we are common people, and our needs are basic.  We can share our dreams, we can forge alliances and we can right the Ship of State.  Did I hear someone say “We can be the handshake?”  So that when October of 2012 rolls around and we prepare to take the country back, there will be no doubt.  “We’re here.  We’re unified.  And we’re patriots.”

Half of the people can be part right all of the time
Some of the people can be all right part of the time
But all of the people can’t be all right all of the time
I think Abraham Lincoln said that
“I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”
I said that

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Queen Hotchibobo
May 13, 2011 5:17 pm

Nice dispatch.

But I’ll just point out that though Pres. Kennedy was before my time, my parents hated his guts and thought he was dishonest and corrupt. They are still very resentful over the theft of the election and my dad is disdainful over Daddy Joe’s manipulation of a blatantly false military PT109 false persona. (I think I have those numbers right. I’ll acknowledge glazing over at times when he ranted.)

I think my Republican roots are deep indeed.

May 13, 2011 8:40 pm

I wasn’t out of diapers in ’62, bob, and my parents kept us really sheltered from the world we live in (maybe a bit more than was wise).

But I believe the concept you’ve presented here, of bridging the gap from generation to generation and of attempting to pass on what we can of the American spirit to those coming up behind us….I believe that it could make a difference in 2012, so where do we start? How do we start?