Like many of you reading this, my first reaction to the news of Ted Kennedy's passing Tuesday night was one of sadness. But also that it had been expected, ever since it was first learned that the Massachusetts Senator had brain cancer last year.
On a deeper level though, it really feels like the final chapter of an era has finally been written. Camelot is over once and for all.
For those of you too young to remember, the word Camelot came to symbolize the hopes that many people who grew up in the '60s had, first for the presidency of Ted's older brother, President John F. Kennedy, and later for the candidacy of his younger brother Robert.
I was just a kid then.
But the memories of that time are forever etched into my consciousness — with the years 1963 - 1968 having a particular resonance. Five years may not seem like that long to some. But to a kid, it's a lifetime. The music which formed the soundtrack of this historic period in particular has continued to resonate with me throughout my entire life.
I remember the day that JFK was shot almost like it was yesterday. I was seven years old. They let school out. As I was making the one block walk home, I noticed an ambulance at the house at the end of my street. The old guy who was always out gardening in his yard was lying on the ground, surrounded by several of the ambulance guys. I later learned that he had a heart attack. I never did hear if he survived it or not.
There hadn't really been a soundtrack to my childhood up to this point. But a few months later that all changed with the arrival of the Beatles. When the mop-tops from Liverpool conquered America on the Ed Sullivan Show, I was one of the millions of Americans who watched. Actually, I had to really pester the hell out of my parents to let me come out of my room past bedtime to see what all the fuss was about.
The Beatles — with all of their "yeah, yeah, yeah" innocence — were about the coolest thing I had ever seen up to that point. For many young people like me, they also represented the perfect antidote for the shock we were still feeling from the tragedy of the Kennedy assassination just a few months before.