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May 2017

    Living in History

    “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

    John F. Kennedy

    During this month in 1917, John F. Kennedy was born – one hundred remarkable years ago.  It was truly a different time.  Women could not yet vote.  The U.S. had just been drawn into a World War (the first).  Russia was experiencing its Communist Revolution.  The best selling car of the time was Ford’s Model T.  The flu pandemic that ultimately killed over 20 million was spreading across the world.  Mary and Jack Pickford won the acting Academy Awards in its fourth year, and presciently, The Little American won the award for best picture.

    I was in the first grade when JFK was elected.  I (would have) voted for Nixon, echoing my father’s opinion that Kennedy did not have enough life experience.  Ironically, I ultimately did vote for Nixon when I turned 18 in 1972, a fact I soon and have long regretted.

    Kennedy’s election came at a turning point in history.  The Baby Boom generation was coming of age and his vision inspired them to believe in ideals and in change in ways that their more conformist parents did not, bearing their childhood memories of the Great Depression.

    Some of that optimism suffered when Kennedy was shot three years later.  While he had experienced mixed results in foreign affairs, he had set the country on a path toward equal rights for all races.  He has even set our sights on the moon itself.

    There are events in life when you remember where you were when they happened.  Shuttle disasters, September 11th, and even Elvis Presley’s (alleged) death come to mind.

    The first such occasion for me was November 22, 1963.  I was in Mrs. Wilson’s third grade class when the Principal made a cryptic announcement over the loud speaker.  Word of the shooting began to spread and we saw Mrs. Wilson cry, which left us confused and disturbed.  As the afternoon passed, the school office placed its microphone next to its radio, and we heard the news as it transpired.  There was no school the next day, but everyone’s shock dampened any joy we might have had.

    A reporter who followed in his father’s path asked his dad on his 75th birthday if writing about JFK’s death was his favorite story.  “No,” he said, “It stunk.”  As a lawyer, I can also say that having to do my job on days when the outcome was unfair and stunk in the same sense, even if my client won as a result.

    The first unforgettable event for my children was the explosion of the space shuttle.  When I learned of the disaster, I went home to be with my young daughter.  I sat down with her and asked what she had heard.  She replied, The space ship blew up and all the people cried.”  With young children, it is important to explain things at a level they can understand.  I could not have said it better.

    When JFK took office he was as far off in time from Teddy Roosevelt as we are now from Kennedy’s time.  Much has changed for us, and change itself has become our norm.  The key now, as it was then, is to know yourself and to live expectantly.




  • Knowing Where You Stand

    There have been more inventions in my lifetime than, just possibly, all of time.  The microchip, the Internet, and intermittent windshield wipers are just a few.  The one that never ceases to amaze and to help…

  • About Nothing

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former. Albert Einstein Infinity is more than the  misspelled name for a car.  It is a number that is the sum…

  • Preexistence

    Healthcare is in the news again – this time for passage of a Congressional House bill that few if any had read and none had had the opportunity to determine its costs or likely effects.  What…

  • One Acorn

    If I haven’t mentioned it before, my wife and I teach a law school course for students engaged in public interest internships.  This story is less about the course than about one of the many students…

The Last Word

After all is said and done, more is said than done.

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