Friday, 04 October 2013
On Making It Through the Nineteen-Sixties
By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog
Jack Kennedy, in sixty-one,
Told Congress, “There’s a race to run;
Let’s reach the moon, let’s jump the gun!”
The times were a-changin’, Dylan sang;
From Liverpool, the Beatles sprang,
Throughout the land, their music rang.
But good times only roll so far,
Bad things can happen, and they mar
The luster of the brightest star.
That November, nineteen sixty-three,
Our nation gave an elegy
For murdered John F. Kennedy.
Next year the Civil Rights Act passed,
A law to right great wrongs, at last,
Although the work ahead was vast.
Great riots roared, and cities burned
All through the sixties unrest churned,
The grim response of people spurned.
Then women learned a new mystique
As Friedan’s book provoked the meek,
And feminists rose up to speak.
Sixty-eight heard new gunshots ring,
When James Earl Ray killed Dr. King,
Providing one more dirge to sing.
Poor Bobbie ran for president
That June; Jack’s brother’s murder sent
Good reason for a third lament.
In Vietnam we suffered more,
As thousands died in pointless war, Munitions dealers keeping score
The nation wept, and bore its load,
The war drums beat as fury strode
And marched with death along the road.
Our generation’s call for change,
For flower children, in exchange
Of war for peace; did that seem strange?
When Mary Jane lit up the crew,
“Turn on, drop out!” The message grew;
“Make love, not war, it’s what to do.”
In college, near and far away,
The students ragged on LBJ;
“How many kids’d you kill today?”
They helped to topple his regime,
With opposition too extreme,
He chose to quit, ran out of steam,
The protesting was all about
A senseless war, death’s heavy clout,
With “Time for peace!” the fervent shout.
In sixty-nine, we reached the moon,
The mission done, so opportune;
Jack’s promise kept, and mankind’s boon.
Let’s sum it up, here’s what we got:
War crushed the dreams of Camelot,
And mocked improvements that we wrought.
The decade left a bitter taste,
But still, it wasn’t all a waste;
Some good was done, some gains embraced.
Some progress came, for all to see,
More civil rights and liberty,
But at what cost, what misery?
We yearned for peace; instead, war came,
We saw the bombs and bullets maim
The innocent, their world in flame.
Good will and peace remain the goal,
Although ill deeds still take their toll,
And try the patience of the soul.
Yet men can be both brave and good,
They try for better, and they should;
To build a world in brotherhood.
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