Friday, November 22, 2013

Health Care and JFK

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, in downtown Dallas, Texas. A huge shock to the nation, it singlehandedly affected the entire population at once and forever changed the image of news coverage in the US as well as the leading cause of the end of the “Age of Innocence” in America. Also, the tragic loss of JFK was a harbinger of how vulnerable society was to violent acts and violence in general.

As an 8 year old living in southwestern Pennsylvania, I remember distinctly this day. Although it has been fifty years to the day, I still remember the announcement by our elementary school principal over the loud speaker in our room, and how the entire teaching staff and some students reacted to the news pronounced slowly and haltingly by a grown man not typically known to be emotional. Many of the female teachers screamed and ran into the hallway, crying out loud and shaking. Some of the students in my third grade class were upset because of their reaction to the news. And school was suddenly dismissed, interrupting our preparations for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

In those days, it was still safe to walk home from school. And as I entered the house when I got home, I noticed my mother who was not a big fan of the President, crying at the news being broadcast our black and white television set in the living room. Although she was not a political creature by nature, the shear unbelievable event was enough to cause her to be emotionally affected. We listened for the rest of that afternoon and into the evening, and we cried for the loss of life, and for the loss of certainty in our lives and as a country.
Although I really did not understand fully the implications of JFK’s assassination at the time, I did know what being murdered and dying was about. As a kid, I could not really comprehend why someone would want to kill the President. But as I grew older, and began to understand how the world works, I realized that evil is alive and seeks to destroy all good things.

Now, fifty years later as the news programs and documentaries have been broadcasting all week long about the history of that day, and as those who were close and personally involved in everything from the presidential limousine, to the arrest of Lee Oswald, to his murder by Jack Ruby, and the finality of little John John saluting a flag draped casket on its way to Arlington Cemetery, it is very apparent that memories sometimes are lucidly clear, and sometimes are given to modified revisions of actual events. The closer you were to that day, the more you remember.
I live in the Dallas area today, fifty years later. And I have been to the locations that have been re-broadcast in black and white footage, and even Dealey Plaza and the grassy knoll shown so clearly in the Zapruder film. That few seconds of film forever changed the way the American President now rides through traffic, under a very bullet proof, armored limousine—no more open cars, and no more lax secret service. 

Even the physician who operated on JFK that day at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, trying to save a life drained of brain, blood, and breath, changed the way treatment has been done on all trauma cases. And emergency services have improved dramatically since that day. Over the past five decades, health care has changed dramatically for anyone who has a life threatening event. And for those who need regular medical care, the improvements in medicine have advanced beyond comprehension to those who were watching life drain from the American President on November 22, 1963.
Has the American population changed in its overall social attitude toward Presidents? There have definitely been better and worse executives in the Oval Office since 1963, but the overarching message is that no matter who the occupant of the White House is, and no matter how much you may agree or disagree with his policies, the need to keep him safe and secure is tantamount to national security, and international stability.

No matter what side of the political aisle you stand, always remember one thing. The Office of the President deserves respect. You may disagree with his policies, but respect the Office. You may campaign against him, but respect the office. You may vote for another candidate, but honor the office. The Bible commands that you pray for all those in authority, no matter the office. Pray for wisdom, for following God’s will, and for safety and protection. And, no election results happen by accident. If you are in doubt, read these passages: Proverbs 21:1, and Daniel 2:21.
Fifty years—where has it gone? Over the years, sometimes time seems to crawl.  Looking back, however, the time has flown. The older you get, the faster it goes. Here’s to making every moment count!

Until next time.

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