Friday, November 22, 2013

THE JFK LEGACY: 50 Years After the End of Camelot (Guest Post)

The JFK Legacy
(50 Years After the End of Camelot)

I've been trying to pursued 
my buddy Kimothy Sparks 
to contribute a "Guest
Post" for quite some time. 
And as U.S. Presidential
history buff, I think that 
his debut contribution 
was well worth the wait.

November 22, 1963, a day forever etched in the minds and hearts of any American of 50+ years or anyone younger who is interested in American history. That day, like September 11, 2001, marks a dark cloud on this great nation. Not only because it held the event of such a young, dynamic, ambitious leader being struck down in his prime, but because it erased an American legacy that never had a chance to bloom.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a Democrat, and probably one of the most left-leaning Democratic Presidents to that point in American civilization — beside FDR. Nevertheless, the accomplishments that JFK had achieved during those one thousand days of his term and the goals he had set for the remainder of that first term and beyond were right out of a conservative’s wish list. The aspiration to remove Cuban dictator Fidel Castro from power (even if it meant assassinating him) the head-on confrontation of Nikita Khrushchev and the Soviet Union on expanding nuclear missile sites to Cuba, and a fierce stand against the spread of communism. JFK was a pragmatic Democrat, a patriot who loved the country that he was fortunate enough to grow up in as an elite citizen.

What is so terribly sad about the 50th anniversary of his assassination is the JFK legacy that we will never know. The legacy that has been whispered and locked away for 50 years — his hopes, dreams and tough stances against unnecessary war, corruption and America for everyone. Today, you do not have to research very far to discover that had JFK lived, he already had plans to remove 10,000 advisor troops from Vietnam by the end of 1963 and have all American troops out of Vietnam by June of 1964. Kennedy believed that Vietnam was a lost cause and that South Vietnam’s and Ngo Den Diem’s defeat was inevitable and he didn’t want to place Americans in harm’s way for a lost cause. That is over 58,000 Americans who would have lived longer and thousands of others who would not have experienced that horrific episode.

The Kennedy approach to civil rights was all inclusive and he and brother Bobby, the U.S. Attorney General, seemed to know the right amounts of pressure to place on the South in order to break down the Jim Crow laws and fully integrate the South on a gradual but, for certain intensity. Governor George Wallace, a fellow Democrat in Alabama, had been dealt several defeats early in his first term as he focused on saving desegregation for the Southern cause, or state’s rights cause. The Kennedy’s seemed to have a surefire plan to destroy the “old South” despite its resistance, and they were enjoying success.

Politically, JFK seemed to have successfully overcome some, if not all of his perceived weaknesses in his first term as President. The Catholic bias, the boy with the golden spoon, the need for Lyndon Baines Johnson and his cronies to win Texas in 1964 and capture a second term had been overcome with the man’s toughness and strength in the face of adversity. In fact, LBJ’s scandal-ridden career had come to its helm and there is evidence that both JFK and his brother, the Attorney General RFK, had discussed removing LBJ from the 1964 Presidential ticket due to his latest scandals involving Billie Sol Estes and Bobby Baker.

What would a second JFK term have looked like? No Vietnam? No Anti-war movement? A more successful achievement of civil rights? The 1960’s could have had an entirely different look and feel. Unfortunately, we will never know, because gunshots and bullets tore through an American Dream that dark day — November 22, 1963.

-Kim Sparks
(November 2013)

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