November 22...Forty Years Later

Edmonton - Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - by: Ron Thornton

he would
now be

*Forty years*. It is a period of time that could transform a young and vibrant 46-year old president into an ancient political warrior from a former time. *An 86-year old John F. Kennedy* might be making the odd public appearance, along with a 90-year old Gerald Ford and the 79-year old "kids" Jimmy Carter and George Bush. He might possibly be making comment on the fading health of 92-year old Ronald Reagan. One might wonder what kind of advice a 57-year old Bill Clinton might have sought from the "grand old man" of the Democratic Party, be it over public affairs or affairs of a different kind that have a way of coming to light.




It is impossible to measure how the life of one man, had it continued to a natural conclusion, might have changed the world. Still, it does not stop us from wondering as to what "might have been." Would Lyndon Johnson have ever served as president, or might Kennedy have spent his twilight years in the company of another former president; his 78-year old brother, Robert? How many might have been able to leave their mark on this world if John F. Kennedy had lived, and had so many not died or saw their lives forever changed in the rice paddies of Vietnam? If the events that took place on this date forty years ago been avoided, could the escalation of the conflict in southeast Asia also have been avoided or its impact lessened? Forty years later, how many even care?




Today's young have no memory of John F. Kennedy, of the full impact of this date. I was just a lad of seven years old when Blair Fowler came rushing over to my desk to tell me what he had heard on the radio in our grade two classroom. I knew who Kennedy was and I knew what a President was, though my knowledge was quite new and very sketchy. We only had two television stations, and both were devoted to providing black and white reports from Dallas and Washington up until my bed time. I shall never forget this day or the significance it holds in my life and that of my generation. I shall never forget, but my children will. That, I'm afraid, is the nature of things.




While the date my wife and I married, when our sons were born, the day we lost my sister-in-law all mark significant dates in my life, such dates have no more significance to others than November 22nd has for those who have yet to celebrate their 40th birthday. To those who can not fathom what it is to experience forty or more years of life, ‘long ago' can mark the passage of less than twenty years. An unimaginable passage of time for the young, but moments in time that remain fresh for many who actually lived them. As we grow older, we witness events that shock us, are left to mourn the loss of those who suddenly leave us, and see a younger generation fail to appreciate what is so very real to those of us who actually lived through historic times. We forget that each generation has its own historic times that each must put into perspective.



and 9-11

On September 11th, 2041, one of my sons may tell a future generation his story and wonder if anyone might remember its significance.


Ron Thornton




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