Friday, November 8, 2013

I Miss JFK

I was in my early twenties when Kennedy was assassinated. I miss him. I miss those days when Kennedy embodied the youthful confidence of our country, the boundless possibilities of success, the great give and take of American politics, and the hope that we could all somehow make a difference in this hard world. I confess that I miss the excitement that people felt as the myth of Camelot began to take shape; I know it was a bit over the top, a romantic nod to King Arthur's Round Table, but still, it was a great national fantasy.

All that ended on November 22, 1963. Before we drank our fill, the golden cup of promise was shattered that black day.

Here's a folk song from the album, "The Golden Cup," which honors JFK and what he stood for.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

JFK: Passing the Torch


This interesting photo shows President Eisenhower greeting president elect JFK on December 6, 1960. Even though Kennedy spoke of the torch being passed to a new generation in his inaugural address, he was an intelligent man and sought the elder Eisenhower's advice immediately after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and during the Cuban missile crisis. As JFK demonstrated, there is much to be gained by seeking the counsel of older leaders and learning from history.




Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Remembering JFK: "The Golden Cup," A Folk Song


Like Martin Luther King, President John F. Kennedy envisioned a "New Frontier," a U. S. where everyone, including African Americans, had equal opportunities for success. His vision also included a U. S. which took a leadership role in the exploration of space as well as a growing and vibrant national economy unhampered by restrictive tax rates.

And like millions of other Americans at that time, I shared his vision of America. Today, some of us are beginning to question whether we can sustain our success and others doubt our nation's ability to lead in these difficult times.

In my view, were JFK alive today, he would disagree with those doubters. Read these words from JFK to see what I mean.
“The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.”
"I think we have to revitalize our society. I think we have to demonstrate to the people of the world that we're determined in this free country of ours to be first -- not first but -- not first when -- but first." 
I was in my early twenties when Kennedy was assassinated. I miss him. I miss those days when Kennedy embodied the youthful confidence of our country, the boundless possibilities of success, the great give and take of American politics, and the hope that we could all somehow make a difference in this hard world. I confess that I miss the excitement that people felt as the myth of Camelot began to take shape; I know it was a bit over the top, a romantic nod to King Arthur's Round Table, but still, it was a great national fantasy.

All that ended on November 22, 1963. Before we drank our fill, the golden cup of promise was shattered that black day.

Here's a folk song from the album, "The Golden Cup," which honors JFK and what he stood for.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

PT 109 Commander Jack Kennedy

This is a pic of JFK during his WWII years.

There's a little swagger in the pose -- confident but not arrogant.

There's nothing wrong with a show of confidence if you're leading men into battle. As a matter of fact, having a confident leader is much better than having someone who broods and seems equivocal and uncertain about every decision.

JFK was Commander of the 80' (Mfg. by Elco) Patrol Torpedo Boat 109 and its twelve-fourteen man crew in the Pacific. The boat was powered by three Packard V12 engines (1200 hp each) for a top speed of 35-40 knots. They were armed with two to four Mark 8 torpedos.


The Elco PTs were constructed of two layers of one inch thick diagonally placed mahogany planks which made them easier to repair if damaged...and if they were able to make it back to base.

The PTs were nicknamed "plywood coffins." I'm guessing the brass probably wanted Commanders with a "little swagger" to helm these boats.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Joseph Kennedy, Jr., JFK's Older Brother

Joseph Kennedy, Jr. was JFK's older brother by two years. Joe Junior had been groomed by his father from a very early age to be president of the U. S. He attended the prestigious Choate School in 1933 and graduated from Harvard in 1938. He spent a year of study at the London School of Economics before enrolling in Harvard Law School.  He was a delegate to the 1940 Democratic National Convention and planned to run for congress from Massachusetts. As World War II began, Joe Kennedy left law school and began officer and flight training in the U. S. Navy.

He completed 25 missions as pilot of a land based PB4Y patrol bomber by 1944 and was eligible to return home to the United States.
PB4Y
He instead chose to volunteer for a very dangerous mission called Operation Aphrodite. This secret development made use of "unmanned, explosive laden Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers, that were deliberately crashed into their targets under radio control."

The bomb filled planes couldn't safely take off by remote control; pilots had to take off and fly them up to 2000 feet where the remote control would take over and the pilots would parachute out of the plane. The planes would then be crashed into the target.

On August 12, 1944, five planes took off from RAF Fersfield near Norwich in Norfok, England. The BQ-8 (a converted remote control equipped B-24 Liberator) was piloted by Joe Kennedy; his co pilot was Lt. John Willy. Two of the other planes were Lockheed Venturas, the navigation plane was a B-17, and an F-8 Mosquito was the photography plane.

Their target was the Fortress of Mimoyecques, an underground German military complex in the Pas-de-Calais region of northern France. The allies knew something was going on there, but they didn't know that the site was supposed to house 25 giant V3 cannons which the Germans hoped to use to bombard London (only a hundred miles away). 

Kennedy's plane was loaded with 21,000 pounds of Torpex and the plan was for Kennedy and his co pilot to get the plane into the air, put the plane on remote control for a test turn, remove the explosive firing pin, and then parachute to safety before the plane was guided to its target.

Everything went according to plan up to and including the firing pin removal. Over the radio, Kennedy told the other planes, that the pin had been removed. Two minutes later, the plane exploded.

A camera man in the photography plane who was injured by some of the fragments from the explosion says,  
the Baby just exploded in mid-air as we neared it and I was knocked halfway back to the cockpit. A few pieces of the Baby came through the plexiglass nose and I got hit in the head and caught a lot of fragments in my right arm. I crawled back to the cockpit and lowered the wheels so that Bob could make a quick emergency landing,
Kennedy and his co pilot were killed instantly. Later, an electronics officer said he had warned Kennedy the day before the flight about a possible defect in the wiring harness.

Kennedy's father and the rest of the family were devastated by Joe's death. The presidential plans that Joesph Kennedy senior had for Joe Junior were passed on to the next oldest son, John F. Kennedy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

JFK's Centrist Political Views Would Unite U.S. Today

Kindle EBook Press Release
Nashville, TN, October 21, 2013. As the 50th anniversary of John Kennedy’s death approaches, many books and articles are being published and a documentary style movie is premiering on cable TV. Award winning writer Dan Jewell, author of the just released JFK 50: A Memorial in Drama, Poetry, and Song [click on book cover at right.], says that a politician who espoused John Kennedy's political views today would unite the country and heal its partisan wounds. Jewell says Kennedy was a heroic figure whose centrist views spanned the political spectrum. 

Jewell says that from a liberal perspective Kennedy stood firmly for civil rights -- his dramatic call to Coretta King during the 1960 campaign, his use of federal marshals and national guard troops to ensure the safety of James Meredith at Ole Miss, and his famous TV address on civil rights, all reveal him to be a strong advocate for human rights, a core belief of liberals. In addition to that, JFK was active in pursuing another liberal goal -- nuclear disarmament. He persuaded a reluctant public and Senate to support a limited nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviets.

But Jewell also says that Kennedy's approach to fiscal matters (he believed that across the board tax cuts would benefit all Americans), his distrust of government bureaucracy, his attitude toward the individual's relationship to the government ("ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country"), his disdain for communist ideology, and his support for a strong military buildup, would all be popular with conservatives today.

"JFK 50: A Memorial in Drama, Poetry, and Song is an unusual book," says Jewell who won a national Readers Favorite medal for his mystery novel Blood Country. "The dramatic narrative recalls the fear and grief that the assassination led to, presents the words and deeds of JFK, and makes the case for his inclusion in the pantheon of national heroes. It's not a history, an opinion piece, or a novelization of the assassination. It's in the form of a drama and could be presented on stage, but it was also written to be read. The book is a short eighty-four pages and it includes eighteen photos."

Just released in eBook form on Amazon's Kindle, JFK 50: A Memorial in Drama, Poetry, and Song will soon be available in paperback through the author's blog, http://50jfk.blogspot.com/. The readers' drama also includes the lyrics to seven original folk songs commemorating Kennedy; a companion CD/MP3 album of these songs is available from Amazon or the CD Baby online store. [Click on album cover at top right.] Nashville producer J. Aaron Brown, a two time Grammy winner, calls the concept album "a folksy blend of songs and narrations that will touch the hearts of all who experienced that tragic day in 1963."

"A centrist politician like Kennedy, someone whose diverse views would bring people together, is exactly what we need in today's highly partisan climate," says Jewell.  "I've always admired JFK and he was my first political hero. I was a young, twenty-three year old college instructor when he was assassinated. Like everyone else on that tragic weekend in November of 1963, I was devastated. I tried to recreate some of that emotion in JFK 50: A Memorial in Drama, Poetry, and Song."

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