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Monday, April 2, 2012

Health Activist Writer's Month, Day 2: a Quote

For the month of April, I've renewed the discount at CreateSpace for Multiple Sclerosis an Enigma. To receive 35% off the regular price, go to this link:
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Choose a quote that inspires you (postively or negatively) and free-write about it.

"Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal." JFK

Common links ... breathing the same air ... cherishing children ... cherishing their future ... recognizing mortality. I had this quote on a large poster of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and hung it on the corridor wall outside my classroom. When I retired, I found a friend in the building that shared my admiration of this president, and who would promise to use the poster well. 

Kennedy was our president at the end of the Happy Days of the 1950s. He inherited the worries of a conflicted world across a different ocean, the Pacific. Vietnam was still being viewed as just a conflict, a place for America to step in and advise struggling countries. The cold war between America and the former USSR was well established, and the enemy was communism (or, to the other side, capitalism.) 

JFKIt was easy for JFK to impress me, as I was a ten year old when he was elected president. He was my president; I campaigned for him, carrying a homemade sign carefully lettered and spelled correctly, and I celebrated when he won the election despite the obvious handicaps ... being another from Boston ... being Catholic in a time when domination from across the seas was a threat to many, whether it might come from Russia or from Rome. 

JFK had young children. He had a beautiful wife. He had experience in the World War, and was a hero before he was president. His family came from the same city that I came from. He was from a family as large as my own. How could I not admire him?

When I was an adult, and he was long gone, the scandals were dragged out of the family closet. His beautiful wife went on to another marriage, in another country, and moved in even higher circles than she had as a young political wife. She became a symbol for all of the American women who lost husbands and fiances and brothers in the Vietnam "Conflict." But living as a symbol when the reason for your symbolism is removed was perhaps more than she would choose, and she moved on with her life. 

JFK knew that we were all mortal. He knew that we needed to protect the air that we all breathed, in an era when countries were competing with each other to have the most powerful and destructive tools of war. But he believed in a better use of scientific knowledge, and he authorized two vastly different programs: the race for the moon, and the Peace Corps. Because he did, man looked outward to the heavens and wondered about life beyond our atmosphere, and we began to look within our own sphere and recognize that things here needed more protection, more appreciation, and more collaboration.

It is not only because I was ten and easily inspired: JFK was the right man for our world at the time we all knew him. How sad that when he was gone, the appreciation was not sustained. We grew up, and are now older than he ever had a chance to be. In honor of his goals, and in respect for his memory, we all must do the best we can to protect this air that we all breathe, and to continue to cherish our children's future. 

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