Coursera / Kennedy Half Century – Week 2 Reflection – How terrified we were!

The Kennedy Half Century – The Kennedy Presidency and Assassination

JFK-Titile-Page-with-wordsWe were so afraid in those days! Not just a momentary fear as today when a terrible incident occurs, but an overall, ongoing fear that (sooner or later) we were going to be annihilated by nuclear weapons. The Cuban Missile Crisis showed us how close the threat was, and then the assassination of JFK seemed to end the world as we knew it.

Everything awful in those days was seen as a communist plot, so of course, after learning about Oswald’s background,  we believed that our worst fears had come true and that the communists were behind the assassination.

Many of us who grew up practicing hiding under our school desks in order to prepare for a Russian bomb will always be convinced that these events had to be part of a broad communist conspiracy to take over the world.   I guess we will never know for sure, but we will always be ready for the next conspiracy theory!

We actually knew little about JFK while he was president.  He was certainly a very charismatic speaker, but surprising less so in person than on TV.  The Washington Post often had cute pictures of the photogenic first family on their first page, and the captions convinced us that he was a faithful family man at heart.  How very little we knew!  What we learned after his death appears now to be in part a fable  spun to honor a fallen hero.  I am looking forward to learning in Weeks 3 and 4 about how this tale was woven into our history.

One Reply to “Coursera / Kennedy Half Century – Week 2 Reflection – How terrified we were!”

  1. How very right you are, Ruth. I’ve tried to explain to my students and to my son about how we feared the Communists and that Russia was a terrifying giant! I was just a toddler when Kennedy was assassinated. The content in this MOOC is absolutely fascinating to me. It really helps to fill in the blanks. If young people truly understood what Kennedy was facing in terms of Communism, they may have understood the fear of the spread of it. The actions of the Cold War certainly fueled the Vietnam War.

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