In 1951, an Entire Generation of Narcissists Was Not Still Telling Everybody

“I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news that William McKinley had been shot”.

But Baby Boomers, being the incredibly self-absorbed people we are, are *still* dominating national discourse for the entire month of November with our conviction that an emotionally upsetting moment from our mummified Pepsi Generation Youth is something that Kids Today need to hear about yet again because we Boomers discovered sex, death, morality, and everything else worth knowing about.  Our parents were prologue to us.  Our children are our accessories.  History was born and will die with us.  So we Baby Boomers blather each year about how “America lost its innocence on November 22, 1963″.  That would be the America that endured the crucible of a Civil War, slavery, ethnic cleansing of Native populations, two world wars, the opening of Dachau, and the spectre of nuclear annihilation.  What all the “lost innocence” chatter means is, “I grew up watching Howdy Doody in suburbia and this was *my* first encounter with death that my parents could not shield me from. Since I am the center of all things, that means my emotional experience will now blot out all of human history in my epic narcissism.”

JFK: Eternal rest.

Baby Boomers:  Its been 50 years.  Move on.  You are not the Center of All Things.

Update: Tom McDonald has some smart commentary in followup.

  • Rosemarie

    +J.M.J+

    To be fair, I’m sure plenty of members of the “Greatest Generation” (plus those of previous generations still alive in 1963) would have been able to tell exactly where they were when they heard the tragic news. Speaking as a GenXer who was not yet born in 1963, I grew up hearing my elders tell their stories of where they were and what they were doing when they were told the president had been shot. Strange as it may seem, I actually felt a little left out since I had no such memory to share. At least until the Challenger explosion, when I heard some people suggest that it would join the JFK assassination as an event where “anyone could tell you where they were when they heard about it.” Finally, a tragedy for my generation. :-/ (only to be later superceeded by 9/11, of course.)

    Maybe the country didn’t really “lose its innocence” on that terrible day nearly a half century ago. Yet I think we did change forever in at least one respect; we entered the era of the conspiracy theory. Charges of a coverup by the Warren Commission became the grandaddy of the multitude of conspiracies that people swallow today. Trutherism, birtherism, moon landing hoax, you name it; any traction that they have with people is, IMHO, largely due to the JFK conspiracy theorists training us to distrust the “official story” and seek the real truth elsewhere, somewhere “out there.”

    • Rachel

      I agree mostly but after reading a book on the history of paranoia and conspiracy theories in the US, we have a long history of them. What the JFK assassination did was make it a commercially lucrative. Books, movies, etc continue to be made about it making money for the theorists. You are correct that in addition to that, other conspiracy theories became more well known (fake moon landing, UFO sightings, 9/11 truthers, Obama birthers/secret Muslim, the so-called Illuminati infiltrating music industry, satanic symbols in music, movies, advertisements, etc). Of course, the birth of the internet created a permanent, fluid home for these things, etching out little niches all over the place for fellow conspiracy theorists to congregate. We have our own within the Church as well. I’ve heard several silly ones like Pope Paul VI was replaced by a look alike imposter, Cardinal Siri was supposedly elected in the conclave that elected JPII but was forced to step down, and others. They are fun to read and at the same time its sad because some people take them as gospel truth (I know some who do) and I have to try and debunk several.

      • Rosemarie

        +J.M.J+

        The internet has definitely magnified the problem. The bodies of the Boston Marathon victims were barely cold before some folks started screaming “False flag!” Ditto the Sandy Hook shootings, with claims that the gov’t staged the gunning down of little children to push for gun control. It seems every time something big happens there’s someone out there who yells out, “It didn’t really happen,” or “We’re not getting the full story,” or “Someone else is responsible.”

  • Maolsheachlann

    I think this is harsh. I’m not a Baby Boomer and yet the death of Kennedy does still seem very significant. Television has a lot to do with it– I think our social shared memory is mostly based upon television. But you do have a point.

  • linda daily

    What?

  • Dee

    Eh, I think this is way overstated. I was too little to know or remember when JFK was shot, but he was the first president whose death was broadcast on national television. I think that had a legitimate impact on the national psyche, as did 9/11(on a larger scale) decades later. The “lost innocence” bit is hokey, but that’s the media – always looking for a catchphrase. My parents are pre-boomers and they took JFK’s assassination pretty hard. I also think it wasn’t just JFK’s death, but that of RFK and MLK happening so close in time that increased the historical impact of this event.

  • Noah Doyle

    From narcissism of one generation, to the clumsy revisionism-by-implication of another:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/17/opinion/sunday/dallass-role-in-kennedys-murder.html?_r=1&

  • Sean P. Dailey

    Amen, brother.

  • Dave G.

    I think a major point is that it was the Baby Boomers who made mulling over the past such a passé thing. Those were the days, when Glenn Miller played songs that made the Hit Parade. That song was supposed to be a dig. Of course the WWII generation played along and, when I was growing up, it was a joke. It was always some old dopy guy recounting war stories and remembering Pearl Harbor and not moving on with life. That was in the 70s. The time of Pearl Harbor, WWII and the rest of that era was about 30 years old. And already those spending their time ‘telling war stories’ were the target of jests and mockery.
    Now, 50 years later, not a week has gone by in my life that I’ve not heard *something* about Kennedy, the 60s, Woodstock, Kennedy, the Beatles, the British Invasion, Kennedy, the Summer of Love, Kennedy. That generation that told me, growing up, that it was silly old unenlightened types who obsessed over old dead people made one dead person a nearly religious figure, complete with national holiday, monument and an entire season of devotion that none of those other dead people ever enjoyed.
    To me, it all demonstrates the power of this Boomer era flavored movement. You declare X to be bad, stupid, evil, unenlightened, wrong. And then, 50 years later, you are doing X in a way no person in history would ever have been caught doing.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      The number one song the week before, per CBS news, was by “The Singing Nun.” Be a while I think before the next nun breaks the top 40.

      • Alexander S Anderson

        Via Entertainment Weekly: “The Singing Nun” eventually left the convent and became intensely critical of the Church. She wrote a pro-contraception anthem, “Glory Be to God for the Golden Pill”, which was a commercial failure. She started a school for autistic children, but when the Belgian government came after her for the $63,000 she owed in back taxes, she and her psychotherapist “life partner”, Annie Pecher, committed suicide together in 1985. I don’t want to even begin to start analyzing the socio-religious implications of that life in that time span.

        • Rosemarie

          +J.M.J+

          Well, at least the Belgian government claimed she owed those back taxes on royalties for her hits. She insisted that she had personally received no royalties because she was a religious at the time, vowed to poverty, so all the money went to her order. Which makes sense. The Belgian gov’t wouldn’t budge, however, and this brought upon her great financial difficulties.

          Also, it’s not 100% certain that she and Pecher were a “couple” in the romantic sense, which some have implied. Other than that, though, your information is correct, including the bit about “Glory Be to God for the Golden Pill” and the double suicide, unfortunately.

          Interestingly, though, in their suicide note they said “We hope God will welcome us. He saw us suffer.” They also said that they hadn’t given up their Catholic Faith and asked for a funeral Mass and to be buried in consecrated ground, which I believe the Church in Belgium allowed. So she never totally abandoned her Faith, even if she was critical of some Church teachings.

  • Cathy

    Funny you should mention it. One of my most clear memories of that day was my mother and our next door neighbor sharing their memories of FDR’s death. (If I had even known who FDR was before then, I don’t remember.)

    I think the whole thing is less boomer narcissism than first, feeling a personal connection, second, the media immediacy – all sharing the same experience in real time; third, for many of us, it is the first thing that we remember with total clarity. (I was wearing a red sweater when I saw Oswald get shot.)

    Just as many of us can remember 9/11 in that seared-in way, some of us still remember this.

    • Alexander S Anderson

      I hope my generation isn’t this obnoxious in 2051, though.

      • Alexander S Anderson

        Or… at least I hope we’re reflecting on the importance of the event and not on how it affected us.

        • Cathy

          Well, I might be young enough to not be caught up in how it affected me. RFK’s death affected much, much more. However, I can understand how those 8 to 10 years older than me thought it was pretty affecting. And there are a lot of those people. Everyone has a certain amount of nostalgic narcissism. There is just a critical mass of people for whom this is that event.

      • Ronald King

        How would you characterize the statement you just wrote?

      • Sigroli

        Oh, believe me: you already are.

        • Alexander S Anderson

          Hopefully ~40 years of maturation helps somewhat, though.

  • Thomas Boynton Tucker

    I get the point but it could have been said more charitably.

  • lspinelli

    I am Gen X to the core (born 1970). Our teenage years were overshadowed by the Boomers, into middle age by then. That was the “60s in the 80s” revival. I remember classmates going to Monkees concerts and crushing on Peter Tork. I’m not kidding.

    A line in U2′s “God Part 2″ (1988) sums up how Gen X felt about this: Don’t believe in the 60s as the Golden Age of Pop…you glorify the past, while the future dries up.

    I’m going to spare my Gen Z kids stories about grunge and Nirvana. It’s fun to reminisce, but it just isn’t relevant. Time marches on.

    • http://www.godandthemachine.com/ Thomas L. McDonald

      Amen. I’m not sure anyone can hate a boomer as honestly and thoroughly as a member of Gen X can.

      • Dbom

        “I’m not sure anyone can hate a boomer as honestly and thoroughly as a CATHOLIC member of Gen X can.”

        I fixed it for you.

        A Catholic Gen Xer sees not only the suffocating cultural control of the Boomer Narcissists but the societal destruction wrought from their rejection of ALL OF HISTORY.

        They sought to remake the USA (and in someways, the world) and did a fine job of creating new forms of Hell’s reign on earth.

        Yay for them. I’ll be happy when they are gone and rebuilding can begin in earnest.

        • Stu

          That’s harsh. In fact the whole, “Boomers are the root of all evil” is harsh.

          I’m quite confident every generation has it’s challenges and the ones following it are all to happy to point them out.

          • Dbom

            A 40% rate of illegitimate births is harsh too.

            Especially for those kids growing-up with out Mom or Dad.

            or 50 Million abortions…

            And these are just the most obvious evils coming from the foundation of the ME generation.

            Reality can be harsh, that is true…

            • Thomas Boynton Tucker

              True enough, but I think the proper Christian response is to pray for their conversion, and work for the Holy, rather than to wish for their demise. You are a sinner too, but we are not wishing for your demise.

              • Dbom

                Good point.

            • Stu

              So eff them all!

              • Dbom

                Come on Stu, that seems a little harsh don’t ya think?

                • Stu

                  Sarcasm.

                  • Dbom

                    ditto that…

                    • Stu

                      Noted and appreciated.

                    • Dbom

                      hehe

          • Dave G.

            I think it’s wrong to hate, or to say ‘Boomers are root to all evil.’ But here’s the thing. First, the tendency within a certain movement of the Boomers to basically prove Orwell was right about revolutions. And second, it is that generation whose greatest accomplishment has been to watch as the civilization it inherited unravels and decays beneath its own feet. For those who follow and must deal with the results, that’s a mighty big negative.

            • Stu

              Okay.

              But if you and I were in that generation, would we fall prey to such things as well?

              I’m confident that my generation has it’s issue too and don’t think it prudent to be pinning everything on the previous one.

              • Dave G.

                I don’t. Nor do I entirely blame the Boomers. Many of those who promoted rock stars and movies and TV shows that routinely gave a middle finger to all the things we blame the Boomers for? Why many of them had hit the beaches at Normandy, flew over Japan in B-52s, fought on the sands of Iwo Jima. The Boomers were, in some cases, the result of their parents. Likewise the “Greatest Generation” is vague. We usually mean the guys in the trenches, not the leaders who were, actually, the Teddy Roosevelt Generation. Nonetheless, people of that general age group known as the Boomers bear responsibility, and a huge one. The torch was given to them, and they royally dropped it. Some out of just accepting the bad of the times when convenient, others because they became part of a movement dedicated to things that have proven disastrous to the nation and civilization they inherited. And even now, as they approach elderly status, they won’t step aside for anyone else to step in and possibly halt the decay. And that is blameworthy if nothing else is.

                • Stu

                  In all of the discussions on generalizations about the generations, I did always find it interesting that the “Greatest Generation” produced the Boomers who are routinely vilified. Let’s just hope we don’t screw it up more. .

                  • Dave G.

                    Yeah. In all fairness, I’ve run into many who were there on the Normandy beaches who have told me their greatest failure was how they spoiled their kids.

                    • Stu

                      But I think that is common to us all. I often lament that my children are a victim of success. They are blessed with much but don’t really understand what it took to get there.

                      It’s often remarked on how every generation comments that the one following is “softer.” I think on whole, that true.

            • Ye Olde Statistician

              The unraveling started much earlier, perhaps as early as the 1880s in the arts, but definitely accelerating after the catastrophe of 1914. The upswing in US illegitimate births, for example, began in the 1950s, as did the % of US households headed by a married couple: falling from 80% in 1910, ca.79% in 1950, to 70% in 1960, ca. 65% by 1970, to 53% in 1998, The decline began too early to blame Boomers. Talk to the parents: the Silent Generation by that time.

        • Thomas Boynton Tucker

          Wow, that’s a very un-Christian sentiment.

          • Dbom

            How so?

            Maybe I should have specified I want them all to share in the bounties of heaven for all eternity, just sooner rather than later.

            Either way, the Baby Boomer generation (having rejected traditional Christian virtue as passé) gave the USA complete societal decay.

            You want more of that? Ok. I guess it’s a matter of prudential judgement, but not really un-Christian…

        • linda daily

          Maybe you can build a time machine so you can bypass all the eras you deem unworthy. Or better yet, try living in reality. Every generation has its gifts and failures. I would have thought that this useless meme had run its course by now. Grow up.

        • Sigroli

          Rebuilding by whom? You GenX pansies have done NOTHING worthwhile in the 50 years you’ve been slithering along life’s byways. The Millennials will bury your sorry asses with great glee and satisfaction, and rightly so.

      • http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/ Erin Manning

        Well, my husband was two years old when JFK died, and what makes him mad is that the Boomers insist that people born the year he was are also Boomers. He has nothing in common with them and all of his cultural references are more like the Gen X ones, but somehow he’s supposed to accept this artificial generational definition. So I think that the so-called “Boomers” who were described in “Generation Jones” are even more contemptuous of Boomers than Gen Xers are.

        • chezami

          Officially, the Baby Boom ended in 1964,

          • http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/ Erin Manning

            I know, Mark. But my husband, who was born in ’61, is one of those who argues about the difference between the “statistical boomers” and the “cultural boomers” (to put it in one commonly used set of phrases). Statistically, the very early boomers (born starting in 1946) and the very late ones (those born after the boom peaked in 1957, especially those born in 1960 or later) share almost none of the iconic cultural experiences of the large group in the middle, which is the group everyone means when they speak of the boomers as a culturally cohesive group. My husband hates being told (especially by the media and advertisers) that as a “boomer” he should love certain musicians/types of music or remember certain TV shows nostalgically, etc., especially when the music in question was passe long before he started listening to the radio and if he saw the TV shows they were in reruns already. Or this present situation regarding the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination–the tragedy, terrible as it was, had no impact on those of the Boomers born after 1960 (though a few precocious four-year-old boomers born in 1969 might have retained a memory or two of the incident).

            The bottom line is that to act as though a group of people born over an 18 or 19 year time period is a cultural monolith is very annoying to the people born at the extreme ends on either side. People born around the time my husband was were babies or toddlers when Kennedy was shot, in elementary school during the Summer of Love and Woodstock, and, as one late boomer put it, not even old enough to have a drivers’ license when Saigon fell. What “baby boom” really meant was that in the approximately twenty years after WWII there was a sharp but temporary increase in the number of babies born. What it does not mean is that therefore the sixties were the most important decade ever experienced by human beings on planet earth.

            • Elaine S.

              Well, I can honestly say I know WHERE I was… my mom was 7 months pregnant with me :-) Demographically, I am (just barely) still a Boomer but I, of course, have no actual memory of JFK, other than all the stuff that’s been aired on TV and in movies about him.

              The 25th and 50th anniversaries of any “watershed” event like JFK, Pearl Harbor, etc. are naturally big deals. I’m sure many of you sitting here grousing about the current JFK nostalgia binge because you weren’t born yet will probably be leading the “where were you” pack when the 25th or 50th anniversary of 9/11 rolls around…. while the younger generation rolls its eyes and says “ok, whatever”. It’s natural and to be expected so it doesn’t bother me that much.

              The one aspect of JFK nostalgia that I do find really irritating is the whole “America lost its innocence that day” bit. Anyone with any knowledge of American history knows that America “lost its innocence” before the ink dried on the Declaration of Independence.

          • Sigroli

            1966 in Canada. It’s colder up here… 8-b

  • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com/ Ben @ 2CM

    Is the main distinction between remembering the two assassinations narcissism, or the existence national television coverage? Images have a way of imbedding in the mind, especially if the mind is undisciplined.

    • Rachel

      I definitely agree that television has a major part to play in this. Instead of being a localized (to a degree) memory, it became a collective memory based not only on the actual eyewitnesses who were there in Dallas but anyone watching tv at the time. The same is said about 9/11 since it was all over the news and made worse by constantly replaying the event over and over and over and over again

  • meunke

    For me, I can’t stand that constant fawning over him. Much like Abe Lincoln, the media keeps portraying Kennedy like he’s some combination of Cicero and Jesus.

    Getting really tired of an incompetent, warmongering, economically illiterate serial adulterer being held up a great role model just because his skull caught a bullet.

    • Thomas Boynton Tucker

      “;;;just because his skull caught a bullet.”
      Classy.

      • meunke

        Well, it’s true. His fame today is that he got blown away and he bedded Marylin Monroe. Aside from those and the near disasters that he brought about (Cuban missle crises, instigated by him, starting us on toward Vietnam, etc.), can you name something particular he did that validates the ENORMOUS, fetish like media coverage for all these years? No.

        Catching a bullet is rather apt as well, given who his shooter was. Oswald wanted to be famous and validate his pathetic life. It wasn’t even that much of a political statement.

        Given how MASSIVE a failure Kennedy was in the honesty and good governance department, the only reason people talk about him so much is the cult of celebrity. I’m sick of it.

        • Thomas Boynton Tucker

          Actually, he wisely kept us out of nuclear war in the Cuban Missle Crisis when plenty in the military were urging him to pull the trigger. He learned that he couldn’t trust the CIA in the Bay of Pigs, and he helped initiate the beginnings of detente with the USSR. He enhanced the space program, which has brought untold benefits, and stood down the segregationists in the South. All of this while working against the interests of the Southern democrats in his own party. As for Vietnam, there is evidence that he was no longer buying into the domino theory and that he would start ending that fiasco. If you knew the mood of the country, you would understand how he brought an entire new optimism and spark of life to the country at that time.

          • meunke

            “Actually, he wisely kept us out of nuclear war in the Cuban Missle Crisis when plenty in the military were urging him to pull the trigger.”
            - What do you call an arsonist who helps put out the forest fire that he intentionally started? You call him an arsonist. For you, apparently, such a person should be considered a hero. And please, he ordered the blockade of Cuba (even though declassified docs show we knew missiles there didn’t alter the balance of power any more than us sticking the missiles in Turkey did.). It was his blockade and ultimatum that brought us to the brink of war. And you somehow… think that counts as deescalation?

            ” He learned that he couldn’t trust the CIA in the Bay of Pigs”
            - he giddily gave the plan his approval. Ah yes, not his fault, right? He was DECEIVED! No, like a true moral coward, he blamed someone else for his colossal screw up. HE signed off on the Bay of Pigs invasion, then refused to send air support. Blaming the CIA was simply him trying to scapegoat.

            “As for Vietnam, there is evidence that he was no longer buying into the domino theory and that he would start ending that fiasco.”
            - 100% wrong. He is directly responsible for continuing to expand our involvement there, sending in more and more ‘advisers’.

            Kennedy also enthusiastically pushed the strategic hamlets program in Vietnam: rounding up whole villages and relocating them to walled compounds and burning their villages down before their eyes so as to keep them from ‘undue communist influences’ and buy their loyalty with government handouts. (This also turned out to be a catastrophic failure.)

            ” If you knew the mood of the country, you would understand how he brought an entire new optimism and spark of life to the country at that time.”

            - Awww! Ain’t that sweet! You mean he brought “Hope and Change”? Spare me.

            The man wasn’t the devil. He wasn’t even the worst we could have had. But I refuse buy into the whitewashing of the man as if he were an all American blend of Cincinnatus, Mother Teresa and George Washington all in one swell guy.

            A great article from antiwar.com said it best: This is the real Kennedy legacy: not the mythical “Camelot” out of some
            screenwriter’s imagination, but the all-too-real—and absurdly
            hyperbolic—idea that America would and could “pay any price” and “bear any burden” in the service of a militant interventionism.

            • Thomas Boynton Tucker

              That’s all so wrong that I don’t know where to start. Oh, and you forgot to contradict the part about Southern segregation.

              • meunke

                Because it’s true.

                “Oh, and you forgot to contradict the part about Southern segregation.”
                - Why would I? I said above that the man wasn’t a devil. I know full well he did some good things. What I will not abide is whitewashing the man’s blunders and wrongdoing just because it is politically correct to do so.

                You are free to continue believing him to be a stainless white knight if you like. Hey, there are still people who think everything G. W. Bush did was awesome too. You and them both buy into the same revisionist silliness.

                Try reading a little history instead of gorging yourself on fawning op-eds.

                • Thomas Boynton Tucker

                  http://www.historytoday.com/john-swift/cuban-missile-crisis
                  Here is a faily balanced article by a Cold War historian. And, btw, I never said anywhere that he was a white knight. If anything, it is the current revisionists, long away from the actual time and attitudes, who are painting Kennedy in a bad light. And I never said that he didn’t make blunders. But he also learned quickly from mistakes, like overly trusting the CIA, and the military brass.

                • Sigroli

                  Well, aren’t YOU precious!

  • Stu

    I remember where I was when I heard that Elvis had passed.

    • tj.nelson

      I do too! I was in the parlor of the cloistered Dominican Nuns at Fatima – being seen by a nun there who was a doctor, and another American nun came in to tell me Elvis died. I evidently had food poisoning and was very sick – so when the nun made her announcement, I wasn’t as moved as she was.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    November 22, 1963 was also the day C.S. Lewis died.

    • Rosemarie

      +J.M.J+

      Not to mention Aldous Huxley (Peter Kreeft wrote a book about those three).

      • Woodrow_H

        It’s also the day ‘Doctor Who’ premiered.

  • Stu

    Admittedly this is hearsay, but I like to think it is true regarding JFK.

    A priest friend of mind relayed a story that he got from an old monk in the DC area. It seems as though after JFK returned from his visit to the Pope in July of 1963, the White House contacted the monastery looking for a hairshirt. It was believe that it was for the President.

  • S7

    Yep, yep, yep. (Baby-boomer here.)

  • Pavel Chichikov

    I’m in my 70s, Mark. What have you got against me? Not some abstract Boomer, but me?

    Why are you so cranky?

    • Sigroli

      Geez, Al, you used to be in your 60s! Has that much time passed?

  • http://www.subcreators.com/blog Lori Pieper

    I was seven when JFK was assassinated. Naturally, I don’t remember much about it, just that we were sent home from school in the middle of the day, and the general feeling of sorrow that the President was dead. I know that it really hit my parents hard though. So I have a hard time thinking it was solely the Boomers who are pushing the nostalgia.

    I was born almost smack in the middle of the boom in 1956, and anyone born after me wouldn’t have any significant personal memory from the time. Only the oldest Boomers were in their teens when it happened, old enough to have known what Kennedy was about and to have had a significant impact on their lives and thinking at the time. Much of Kennedy’s impact on the ’68 crowd would have been retroactive, and partly fueled by the assassination of his brother Bobby.

    In June 1968, I had just turned 13 and had quite a crush on Bobby Kennedy. I was also old enough to understand something of what he was fighting for, and his death hit me harder, much harder than his brother’s. So too with others, I think, though most of those affected were five years older or more than me.

    I certainly agree with Mark, though, that the focus on the assassination and general JFK nostalgia has been excessive.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      It’s what happens when a 50th anniversary of anything rolls around. There are usually enough people around who remember. I’ve seen old film of the 50th anniversary of Gettysburg. No doubt there were Gilded Generation types who thought too much attention was being paid to those Civil War Generation types.

  • tj.nelson

    If it wasn’t for the Boomers you little twerps wouldn’t have all the wonderful rights you enjoy today.
    What?

  • meunke

    I remember where I was when I found out that Max Payne 3 was finally going to be released. That was a pretty good day.

  • PalaceGuard

    I think overdwelling on the Kennedy assassination is a form of unconscious distraction. Yes, I remember where I was. But even more clearly, in that time, I remember weekly air raid siren tests, bomb shelters, and being sent home from school during the Cuban Missile Crisis so that, in the event, we could die with our families. I think this background to my age cohort is the actual precursor to the ’60s, during which we all began our relentless, breathless marathon to outrun our own mortality. We didn’t, thanks be to God, experience the actual, direct horrors of the Blitz, etc., but I truly believe that we somehow grew up feeling that we were dancing on thin ice in a heat wave. (And yet, it’s something that I’ve only seen ever mentioned once, and almost in passing, in an Iris Murdock novel.)

  • faithandfamilyfirst

    Baby Boomers ruin everything.

    • linda daily

      Every generation has its gifts and failures, as will yours.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    Arguably, it is more a matter for the GI Generation and marked the point when they flipped from being optimistic and up-beat can-doers to a weary, cynical “squares.” Certainly Adult Abdication (as Jacques Barzun called it) marked the final demise of modern civilization.

    As for me, I was in the physics lab at Notre Dame High School when an obviously distraught Sr. Mary Michael came on the intercom to announce the news.

  • Elizabeth

    Are you delusional? The airwaves are filled with the memory of the adults in 1963. Bob Scheiffer et all keep going over it on CBS. He was a reporter in Fort Worth. HIs Face the Nation show yesterday was full of 70-somethings recalling their actions on that day. I’m 59 hand have no illusions that my recall of the school PA system bing-bonging and playing the radio announcement has any importance. The adults around me didn’t cry or even act shook up. We moved that weekend and the single biggest memory I have is that I rarely saw my friends of five years after that Friday. But I digress. My husband, 14 on the “big day,” and I realize that most of our “memories” of both that day and the Kennedy aura in general were after the fact creations of the media. All those posed shots of the coiffed, weil-dressed wealthy family (never a hair or big of make-up out of place, never a cigarette, never a dirty child even on the beach) were planted. I have hardly any actual memories of the president from the time. It was all Look and Life magazine spreads afterward.

    Loss of innocence is individual or at most, generational. Only the innocent lose innocence. The rest just plug along, coping.

  • Elmwood

    I remember hearing on NPR some lady gushing over the music of Crosby Stills and Nash with some new book on the band. I was thinking to myself about how few people listen to that except the baby boomers and how much she needs to let it go.

    • Sigroli

      So what should they listen to? Nirbloodyvana???

  • Ronald King

    It is easy to call a generation narcissists and it is much more difficult to understand the history of pain which each generation inherits and their attempts to end that pain. Narcissists see people as objects to be used for personal gain. For a narcissist a human being is either a good object or a bad object and the narcissist will provide evidence to validate that belief. I was born in 1947. If anyone knows who I am please speak up.

  • Elizabeth

    McKinley died in 1901. There were not endless videos and recordings and photos to keep the event alive in people’s minds every decade, as the media has done with the assassinations of the 1960s. This whole thing is a media creation, like the Greatest Generation, the Boomers, Gen-X and Millennials are media creations. I guess someone has to generate the narrative, and if we don’t do it ourselves, the media will do it for us.

  • Elizabeth

    One last thing. Kennedy may be remembered so fondly because – besides the great professionally posed photos- people still hope that somehow he would have avoided LBJ’s disaster in Vietnam. He probably wouldn’t have, however. He was a cold warrior afraid of being called soft on communism, like most politicians of his era. If he’d lived to make a mess of things, no one would really care. Dying young in such a violent way replaced a legacy of actual achievements with a memory of shock and pain for many people.

  • Elaine S.

    “people still somehow hope he would have avoided LBJ’s disaster in Vietnam”

    I suspect that is a big part of the Kennedy mystique. Plus, at the time of his death he was (from what I gather) riding high in public opinion and had come off some significant positive accomplishments such as the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. He was also still in his first term and hadn’t had time to make any epic screw-ups or scandals other than the Bay of Pigs. Heck, I wonder if, say, Nixon had died or been assassinated after he made the trips to Russia and China but before Watergate, he’d be idolized today as a great president. Or if Carter had died right after Camp David.

  • Really?

    I, for one, am quite thankful for the Boomers. After all, without them I wouldn’t be here.
    That’s probably considered narcissistic these days.
    Some day I will be an old lady, and the younger generation will no doubt despise me for reminiscing about where I was the moment the towers went down.
    Won’t stop me from talking about it, though.

    • Sigroli

      Exactly.