"Anthem" by Leonard Cohen

"The birds they sang at the break of day
Start again, I heard them say
Don't dwell on what has passed away
or what has yet to be...

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It was 40 years ago today...


Yearbook (1968)
Originally uploaded by musicmuse_ca
These shots are from my 1968 High School yearbook. It has been 40 years from that terrible year until now, 2008.

I remember that time well. I have no nostalgia for the '60's. Coming of age as a young woman during this time was difficult. I have never seen a portrait of the 60's on TV or in the movies that did not romanticize what was an agonizing, terrible, bloody and murderous time for those of us who lived through it. In 1967, when I was still in jr high school, I attended my first anti-war rally in NYC, protesting the Vietnam war.

The year these shots were taken, 1968, brought the My Lai Massacre, as well as the murders of both Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and riots in the streets. I had been too young to understand what it meant when President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, other than a day off from school. But the murders of our leaders in 1968 hit me hard and my generation hard. I was in utter despair that we would ever stop the killing, or find the leaders who could inspire us to do so again.

I did not give up and I continued to protest. What else could I do? My friends and neighbors were dying. The final blow was Nixon's narrow election in 1968 with his so-called "secret plan" to end the Vietnam War. None of us in the anti-war movement believed him, and it took years of protest and action to eventually end that war. And we did.

Today we have another endless and senseless war on our hands, in Iraq. Brought to us by the same senseless policies and even some of the same people as the Vietnam War.

But today, I have hope again for the first time in 40 years in a National Leader to inspire us and unify us to move forward in a positive direction. Barack Obama is the first national leader in 40 years to bring this message of hope to us all. He reminds me of Bobby Kennedy in the way he inspires so many of us to take action.

In his New Hampshire primary speech, he said to the nay-sayers that told him not to give us false hope:

"In the unlikely story of America, there has never been anything false about hope."

His simple slogan speaks to me: "Yes we can"...
..."to justice and equality"
..."to opportunity and prosperity"
..."heal this nation"
..."repair this world"...

We cannot afford to wait another 40 years for this kind of message. I know I won't have them. And I am not sure our country can afford it. I am ready to join another movement for change. I hope the country will come along for the ride this time around.

2 comments:

Becca said...

40 years ago today, my birth was still a couple of months off. MLK would be assassinated before I was born, and Bobby afterwards.

I've never lived in a world where there was such a thing as "innocence," confidence in the good intentions of our government, or belief in the ideals of a candidate. This year I see something different. Let's hope it bears out to be true.

Beth K. said...

Thanks Becca. I grew up with Martin Luther King and Malcom X and John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy. They had a profound influence on my beliefs and actions.

And they were all assassinated....

But I have hope again for the first time in 40 years, and that is something.

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