Friday, January 20, 2017
What Do You Remember? (Part 2)
I have paid attention to many elections both local and national and even a few of other countries. I believe that my vote makes a difference. And it serves notice that I am watching.
I voted in every presidential election after I became 21. Yes we used to have to wait until then. Sometimes my candidates are victorious and sometimes not. That is the way elections work.
I have also been very active in local campaigns. Even in the big city I worked very hard to try to have my candidate be successful. Sometimes they were victorious and sometimes not.
I have had friends in high positions as far as the governing of the places I lived. I have also had some of those in high positions who did not like me because I fight for my beliefs and rights. Oddly some people are threatened by that.
Taking part in the political process is exciting. I recommend that everyone try it at least once.To learn how the whole process operates is a good lesson.
I have seen politicians who were admired and even adored. I have seen politicians who were not as popular and even scorned.
Richard Nixon comes to mind. He was hurt and angry when he lost the presidential election to John Kennedy. He was certain he would win because he was the Vice-President to a popular president.
One of the reasons he lost was that he was not comfortable in front of television cameras during the first televised race for the White House. He was dark and brooding to look at. He had a dark five o'clock shadow that did not look good on camera. And he sweated profusely.
Kennedy looked young and fresh. He was at ease when talking to the television audience.
Then 8 years later Nixon again ran for president and won beating Vice=president Hubert Humphrey.
Nixon was in danger of being impeached for the break-ins of the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex. When he realized his presidency was in jeopardy he resigned his office. He was pardoned by the new president Gerald Ford.
John Kennedy was loved by many in the country. He was young, rich, had a beautiful wife, and young pretty children. It was so much like a fairy tale that his presidency was likened to Camelot.
Then after almost three years in office he was shot and killed in Texas. The whole country mourned. Much of the world mourned with us.
All television programming was halted so we could concentrate on the assassination. We saw President Kennedy in the motorcade over and over. We saw the scramble of Secret Service to try to protect him but too late. We saw Vice-president Johnson being sworn in as the new president with Kennedy's widow by his side. She was still wearing the same blood-stained clothes she wore when her husband was shot.
We saw Walter Cronkite choking back emotion to tell us that our President had died.
Everybody from that time remembers where they were when they found out. I was in school. We were going to lunch and found people crying and in shock in the halls.
Then we saw the shooter Lee Harvey Oswald as he was being transferred to another location. They were taking him through the underground parking area of the police station. There were photographers and other people standing there to watch.
Suddenly a man later identified as Jack Ruby jumped from the crowd right in front of Oswald. Ruby shot Oswald and killed him. All this was seen live on national television. I will never forget it.
Then there was Kennedy's funeral. It was every bit the royal spectacle we felt he deserved. The caisson followed by the widow and and his siblings as they walked to St Matthew's Cathedral. The caparisoned (riderless) horse indicated a fallen warrior or brave leader.
And the drum cadence. Brrrrrum, brrrrum, Brrrrrum-bum-bum. Over and over and over. Ican still hear it. We listened to it for days.
There were two plans to assassinate President Nixon. Both were thwarted before the men were able to get close to the president.
On two separate occasions President Ford was shot at. Both shooters were female. Both were sentenced to prison terms and released after Ford died a natural death.
President Jimmy Carter was the intended target of a drifter from Ohio who was found with a starter pistol and over 70 rounds of blank ammunition. He claimed to be part of a group of 4 men who were going to kill the president. One other man was arrested. Both were released for lack of evidence.
Ronald Reagan was shot once in the chest and three other men with him were also injured. One died many years later of the injuries he suffered that day. President Reagan was seriously wounded and it took a long time for him to recover. The shooter was confined to a mental institution. He was released in 2016.
Fourteen men were arrested in Kuwait in 1993 for smuggling bombs into the country in order to assassinate George HW Bush. He was no longer the president. It was believed that they were acting for Saddam Hussein.
There were four incidents concerning President Clinton. A retired military officer planned to shoot the president while he was jogging. He never had the opportunity because his plot was discovered. He spent 5 years in jail.
A truck driver tried to fly his plane into the White House. He instead hit a tree and was killed possibly because he was drunk and his aim was off. The presidential family were not there.
A man fired at least 29 shots into a group of men standing outside the White House. The president was not among them. Three tourists tackled the shooter and he was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
During a trip to Manila for an economic meeting the president's motorcade was abruptly re-routed. The Secret Service had intelligence that an attack was to happen on a bridge on the route. A bomb was found under the bridge. It was later learned that the attempt was directed by Osama Bin Laden.
Twice attempts were made on George W Bush. A man stood at the fence surrounding the White House grounds and fired several shots. He received 3 years in prison.
President Bush was giving a speech in Russia when a Soviet-made hand grenade landed on the stage. The grenade was live and had been pulled but a handkerchief was wrapped around it. That prevented it from detonating. As the assassin hopeful was being arrested he killed a Russian Interior Minister. He was sentence to life in prison.
There was an assassination attempt in Turkey on President Obama. The man captured admitted to plotting to kill the president with a knife. He said he had 3 accomplices.
A man who believed he was Jesus and Obama was the anti-christ fired several shots at the White House. No one was injured but a window was broken.
The final attempt was a letter laced with ricin was mailed to the president.
It is a shame that our world is so ugly and violent. It is also sad that the assassination attempts will be remembered more than the good things accomplished by these presidents.
More memories another time but I think I will give us all a bit of a break first.