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In 1968 I was 11 years old, old enough to say prayers for RFK and his family, knowing that my parents would have been saying the rosary like RFK if they had met a similar fate.
Although I felt a deep personal connection with the Kennedys, I knew that the political turmoil around me was much bigger than me. However, Mom and Dad brought the news home to teach us life lessons. Dad played the Ballad of the Green Berets so we would respect the vets, and Mom told us about how Abbie Hoffman bought his house in Worcester from Grammie, and how she didn't know anything about his politics at the time. We were on vacation in NYC when MLK was shot, getting ready to tour the FBI building when we were whisked out and told it was not a good time. I listened to the body counts in Viet Nam every night, and told my Dad one day that the guys were doing a good job killing the VC and we were going to win. He told me that it was never good to kill people. I remember people getting hosed down in Alabama for Civil Disobedience, and I tried to reconcile it with my nursery school experience where most of my classmates were black. I started reading Art Buchwald's column to help me to navigate through the absurdity and I watched Dick Cavett every day after school.
When older kids told me that JFK was shot on the way home from school in 1963, I didn't believe them because no one could shoot the president. He was the leader of our country. That day marked the beginning of my education outside of school.
For me, 1968 was a time of great personal growth and understanding, especially in terms of dealing with contradictions and ambivalence. I did have some understanding that it was a time of great social upheaval and change. It is really so important for young people to study that time period to understand the present and appreciate all of the freedom and opportunities they have because of 60s activism. Barak Obama is evidence that some of the issues that were brought so forcefully into the public arena in the 60s had a great impact on the American people.
I was 17. DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC? (title from memory). A good book of reflections of people who have lived through the 60's. I felt the religion that was started about 1968. Felt as a ripple that I think emminated from San Francisco. JohnS