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the day after a day of days

September 12, 2011

My father told me November 22, 1963, that I would remember JFK’s assassination

vividly for the rest of my life.  “It’s a day of days,” he said, like the stock market

crash in 1929 and the attack on Pearl Harbor were for him.


He was right.  I can give you a precise account of that autumn day, down to the

movie I saw after helping out for several hours as a copy boy at the Shreveport 

Times (“McClintock!”, starring John Wayne).  Subsequent days like that include

the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in ’86 and, of course, 9/11.


I could have continued cleaning out the shed yesterday afternoon, but I chose to

watch the 49ers play the Seahawks.  That should be far enough away from the in-

cessant coverage of the 10th anniversary of that horrific day of days, I reasoned.


I was wrong.  The game was pervaded by references to the event.


I don’t have any pithy conclusions about the blitz of information and emotional

responses that ran all week.  I’m still sorting it out.  I know that I’ll die with un-

answered questions about what really happened, because I still have questions

about JFK’s death.  Events of such magnitude quickly enter the realm of myth and

facts become secondary.


I did have two takeaways I wanted to share, though.  First, I found out that after a

decade to address the problem, New York still has no integrated communication

system for first responders.  That means, in a similar attack today, the various

agencies like the police and fire departments still couldn’t talk to each other.


The second is a comment from a survivor or family member of someone killed in

the chaos: “It’s hard to believe how those people could be so hateful.”  At once I

thought about the U.S. drone missile that obliterated 30+ Afghanis in a wedding

party.  How difficult can that be to understand?


A few days after 9/11, I was sitting by a lake crying and I asked myself  “how could

they do that?”  But I already knew and said aloud: “blowback”.  The American re-

sponse of a war in Afghanistan with no end in sight, coupled with the invasion and

occupation of Iraq, seems to insure further resistance.


These are my scattered thoughts this day.  I would really like to know yours.                                                                               

  1. September 12, 2011 4:45 pm

    War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

    • September 13, 2011 7:18 am

      Hey, hey, unnnnnh, yeah!

  2. Charlotte Wales permalink
    September 15, 2011 6:15 am

    I too remember that day well; I went home for lunch, something I didn’t often do, and heard it on the radio; I rushed back to school, taking my portable radio, and told everyone I knew; the teacher in my next class had us all say a prayer for his family and the nation. I remember how I cried, and how I watched endless newscasts over the next several days. Years later, when I lived in Dallas, Texas, I went to Parkland Hospital to donate blood for a friend, and I remember thinking of President Kennedy being there in that same hospital as they worked on him, to no avail. It still makes me sad thinking of him. As for our “war” on terror – – I truly believe it’s simply a war of convenience for the corporations who profit from scaring people about supposed “terrorists” behind every door. It has spread to Afghanistan and who knows where next; all for the corporate bottom line – – very sad, and very frustrating. When will people take off their blinders and see the damage, both here and abroad, that this monstrous sham continues to cause?

    • September 15, 2011 6:53 am

      When I heard, I skipped school and went to the Times/Journal newsroom, because I knew that’s where the action and info would be. The energy there was incredible. While I was there, Oswald killed Officer Tippitt and was captured. I left only because I had a date that night. When we left the movie about 9 pm or so, people were on the streets selling papers and yelling “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” — the only time I’ve ever witnessed that.

  3. Charlotte Wales permalink
    September 15, 2011 6:17 am

    By the way, Allen – I was in Little Rock yesterday, anxiously awaiting the 6-weekks-early arrival of my new grandson, Roman. I’m glad to say all is well; he weighed in at 5# 13 oz., and is beautiful and healthy, thankfully. Mom is doing well; Cody was a trouper, stayed with her throughout the whole process, even cut the cord! He’s the most centered person I know – such a good man and Dad!

    • September 15, 2011 6:54 am

      Congratulations! Is Roman Cody’s first child, your first grandchild?

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