SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

April 13, 2013

Shribman: Forty-nine years, four months, 25 days

DALLAS — Tuesday is a day that will be marked by no one, and yet it is freighted with history.

April 16 ties our era with the two landmark assassinations of the modern age, the killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 and the murder of John F. Kennedy here in Dallas in 1963. Tuesday is an anchor that helps explain our time, giving meaning to our memories, providing perspective for the great changes that have occurred in the past century.

The assassination of Franz Ferdinand and Kennedy were separated by 49 years, four months and 25 days. Tuesday is 49 years, four months and 25 days since the tragedy in Dallas.

We think of the killing of the archduke, which set in motion the forces that produced World War I, and the killing of the 35th president, which began an era of tumult, rebellion and violence, as belonging to two very different times: one when air travel was rudimentary and another when it was unremarkable; one when Russia was a czarist empire and another when it presided over a tyrannical Communist bloc; one when the film “Birth of a Nation” was being produced with racist themes and another when Martin Luther King Jr. would lead the March on Washington; one when the World Series was between two teams (the Boston Braves and Philadelphia Athletics) that would play in different cities by 1963 and another when professional sport had become bicoastal and the Los Angeles Dodgers would win the series.

Yet we think of the assassination of Kennedy as having occurred in our own era, even though the birth rate today is half what it was in 1963 and the rate of births to unmarried teenaged females is almost five times higher than it was then; even though the average American home is 71 percent more expensive in constant dollars than it was in 1963; even though the number of daily newspapers is down 21 percent from 1963; even though there are more than 95 million Americans today with connections to the Internet, which didn’t exist in 1963, the year the mouse was invented. (The first version was wooden.)

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