One Brief Shining Moment

by admin

I’m making this a three-part series about Camelot myth vs history. In smaller doses.

~  from the 1960 Broadway musical, CAMELOT, by Jay Lerner

Camelot4

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Don’t let it be forgot

 

 

 

That once there was a spot

Camelot3

 For one brief shining moment

Camelot5 That was known as Camelot!

One Brief Shining Moment

Just look at these photographs. How could this kind of glamor, intelligence and culture in our White House not inspire comparison to Camelot?

It was a controversial administration in a turbulent time, and nobody called it Camelot until President Kennedy was dead.

Soon after that awful day in Dallas, his grieving widow collected herself enough to direct a legacy. From backward boots on the saddle of a riderless horse in the funeral procession, to an interview one rainy night at the family compound in Hyannisport, Mrs. Kennedy intended that we all remember John F. Kennedy as a tragically fallen hero, and forever dream what might have been.

I found the original magazine issue on eBay and scanned the article to share: http://adriennelacava.com/americas-camelot/

kennedy-caroline-john-jr-southlawnI was eleven years old when this tantalizing myth not of King Arthur’s Court gained legs. Guinevere had always been my go-to character when playing pretend as a child so I bought it, and I remain enamored by glamorous images and wonderings of what might have been.

Research work for my novel, No One Can Know led me to examine history alongside the mythology.

Strength but non-aggression

The political landscape of 1963 America was deeply divided. A bellicose Congress perceived JFK as weak. They knew he supported a globally superior defense structure, but disfavored aggression by our military.

JFK was a decorated naval officer in World War II, so he came to office as an informed warrior… and a brand new father.

Mrs. Kennedy said he had an epiphany during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. He just couldn’t stomach the idea of children as collateral damage.

CAMELOT.JFKpt

The depth of harm in war looked different to him as a father, and he challenged the aggressive posture of his Joint Chiefs. About one conflict in particular he’d weighed carefully and decided. America would not send soldiers to Vietnam.

Kennedy had a change of heart, but the military industrial machine had already achieved unstoppable momentum. Many believe this is why he became a marked man.

Romanticism

I try not to idolize, but because I study these books and speeches, it’s not easy. John F. Kennedy was an admirable public servant. His election as a Catholic sparked new tolerance, and initiatives like Civil Rights, the Peace Corps, and NASA brought us into his vision of New Frontiers—that would lead us away from aggression, toward prosperity, and global leadership of the good kind.

JFK-Jr-with-dad-JFK-SrHe was witty, intelligent, and strong. He clearly loved his children, and watching him through adolescent eyes, I remember feeling safe and somehow, understood.

Mrs. Kennedy was devoted to her role as well. During their administration, she was sometimes criticized in the press and as a schoolgirl, I remember being drawn in by those controversies… and coming away enlightened about culture and sophistication and the arts.

Lady Bird had HUGE shoes to fill, and not just because Jackie wore size 10.

Next up, I’ll opine about some of the complexities impacting the Kennedy White House. 



5 Responses to “One Brief Shining Moment”

  1. Roy Taylor says:

    Adrienne, have you heard the lyric about camelot in this song:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yg05svXp98

    Really liked the post and the images with it!

    • admin says:

      Roy, I love it! I had not heard the song before and I’m so glad you shared it. You gotta love Miranda Lambert :) ) And she’s right, this ain’t your mother’s broken heart. Sorry for my delay in responding; something in the notification triggers failed and I just found two comments! I’ll fix it. Thanks for taking time to converse with me here!

  2. With all of your research fresh in mind, what would the world have been like without Dallas? His polls numbers were high indicating he would have won in 1964, right?

    • admin says:

      Hi Gil! I’m mortified to discover that I did not get notification of pending comments; something failed and I’ll fix it. Yeah, I think JFK probably would have carried the popular vote in 1964′s election, although he was still highly controversial and the Joint Chiefs desperately needed a warrior in the White House. The Catholics and the younger voters were so behind him and his visions, plus I think most doubters from 1960 were converted by his accomplishments in the first term. It would have been an interesting election cycle, though, I’m certain of that. Thanks for writing!

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