We Americans are historical people. There are events that define every generation and when anniversaries occur, we relive the occasion with thoughtfulness and often a new perspective based on our own maturity and stage in life. Of course, today is one of those days – the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This was a man whose biography as a President will never be completely written. The early days of his Presidency were not stellar with the disaster at the Bay of Pigs, our entrance into Vietnam, and difficult relations with the Soviet Union. But Kennedy’s calm resolve in October of 1962, when the Soviets placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, may have saved the world from disaster and forever framed his leadership image. There have been other sad defining moments in ensuing years. The Challenger disaster in January of 1986, 9-11, and most recently the events in Newtown, Connecticut.
What’s difficult is knowing how to talk to our children about these events, as it is difficult for them to escape the gaze of the media into our living rooms every night and the playground conversation that happens the next day at school. I am concerned about the images and themes our children are exposed to, often before they are ready to handle it. It’s not just the situation comedies or police dramas – think about the advertisements and the nightly news our kids can potentially watch. I am sure that I wasn’t always so careful when my children were young. More than ever we have to sift through the media our children view and not assume that if the TV is on in one room, that our children aren’t catching the gist of what we are watching in the other room.
There are many sources of information on what constitutes appropriate media and it is clearly a family decision. There are review sites run by religious denominations and other civic groups but a good place to start is Common Sense Media at http://www.commonsensemedia.org/. This site is funded by outside sources and does extensive reviews of TV shows, movies, and video games. I would be interested what you think of this site or if you have other suggestions too.
I also point you to Grant Wiggins’ blog post as he poignantly describes events in his life 50 years ago today. The delight of my morning was emailing Grant with a thank you and receiving this friendly reply:
Thanks Bill. Made made day.