January 30, 2004 - Daytona Beach News Journal: "I knew President John F. Kennedy, the founder of the Peace Corps"

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: January 2004 Peace Corps Headlines: January 30, 2004 - Daytona Beach News Journal: "I knew President John F. Kennedy, the founder of the Peace Corps"

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-42-145.balt.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 11:33 pm: Edit Post

"I knew President John F. Kennedy, the founder of the Peace Corps"

"I knew President John F. Kennedy, the founder of the Peace Corps"

Romance and American conscience


Last update: 30 January 2004

While thinking about how many people equate love or even citizenship with what they gain from it, rather than what they give through it, I recently ran across this passage from journalist Bill Moyers:

"I knew President John F. Kennedy, the founder of the Peace Corps. And I remember him today not so much for what he was or what he wasn't but for what he empowered in me. We all edit history to give some form to the puzzle of our lives, and I cherish the memory of him for awakening me to a different story for myself. . . . John Kennedy knew what great leaders have always known: Preserving civilization is the work not of some miracle-working, superhuman personality, but of each one of us. John Kennedy spoke to my generation about service and sharing; he called us to careers of discovery through lives open to others. There was music in this discovery. It was for us not a trumpet but a bell sounding in countless individual hearts, a clear note that said: 'You matter. You signify. You can make a difference.' Romantic? Perhaps. But we were not then so indifferent toward romance."

What struck me was not just the eloquence the thought articulated, but really the meat and potatoes of it -- the loss of romance in the American conscience.

As a "Gen-Xer" I suppose I should be lethargic or "whatever" about this. I mean who cares, right? Romance is overrated and should be confined to only a few "appropriate" spots in our lives: Valentine's Day makes sense because romance is a great excuse to rev up the economy and spend money -- everyone needs chocolates and sappy cards, right? Music is an obvious medium, although romance there is overrated nowadays. It's much more hip to be Brittany, Aguilera or even Sir Mix-A-Lot and talk about shaken' and taken' booties than it is to talk about a relationship. And then, of course, there is marriage. Anyone who has anything and is married must get a pre-nup -- you really can't trust your toys to your spouse. So pooh-pooh on romance in any form; we don't really need it. At the end of the day, it's purely a vehicle for capitalism.

And yet, even though I'm a "Gen-Xer," I don't believe all that. It's just what I'm told my generation believes. But Moyers is right, we have lost the romanticism of what it means to be American. And, more to the point, one might also argue that we have lost what is romantic about helping out our fellow man, about understanding our individual parts within the collective, about how our unique instrument was designed not to make a sound in the forest which cannot be heard but to play amid its kin in an orchestra to realize the harmony at hand.

Romance in the American conscience. We must reclaim it. We must question authority, lend a hand, and not be daunted by our responsibility to make things better for our neighbors. Throughout history, the romantic have changed the world -- and can again.

Jordan, an Internet development analyst, lives in Palm Coast.

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Story Source: Daytona Beach News Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Presidents - Kennedy; Speaking Out; Generation X



By BrianJordan ( on Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 11:56 am: Edit Post

Honored you have found this short piece I wrote 10 years ago and placed it on peacecorpsonline.org.

Peace and Warmest Regards,
Brian Jordan

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