Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Birthday President Kennedy

One of the most recognized American individuals of the twentieth century was President John F. Kennedy. His short life and Presidency impacted the country and influenced the baby boomer generation.

President Kennedy was born May 29, 1917.

Kennedy was a World War II veteran, young-ish and handsome. He came from a large, newly wealthy Irish American Bostonian family. He sported a beautiful, cultured wife and young children. He was very different from the President we vaguely knew as youngsters – an old (to us boomers), bald general.

We were very young and knew little about life beyond our family, school and neighborhood.

Another icon of the era was the blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe. The two superstars of our youth came together on the night of May 19, 1962. Marilyn Monroe sang Happy Birthday to the President at a celebration in his honor held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The performance became a sensation.

Below is a video of that infamous short piece sung by the era’s sex symbol. Peter Lawford (the actor), President Kennedy’s brother-in-law, introduces Monroe. She missed her cue (accidentally or on purpose we will probably never know), and Lawford made a remark about, “the late Marilyn Monroe”. The irony is that less than three months later she was dead by her own hand (allegedly); she died August 5, 1962.

An assassin’s bullet killed President Kennedy a year and a half after the Madison Square Garden show.

I think just about every baby boomer born before about 1957 remembers where they were when they heard President Kennedy was shot. Many of us also remember sitting in front of black and white TVs, watching grainy pictures of that November week’s happenings.

Suddenly there was a world beyond our cozy, friendly hometown. The global community, unknown and unfamiliar, impacted us. We were going to be a part of it whether we wanted to or not. Our lives changed forever.

But enough serious stuff. Enjoy Marilyn and a few seconds of President Kennedy.