Forty years later, remembering John F. Kennedy
Regarding Daniel Schorr's Nov. 21 column "The Kennedy legacy": Why doesn't Mr. Schorr report all the news about JFK? He caused the deaths of many Cubans in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. He had ties to the Mafia and Sam Giancanna. His brother Bobby, as attorney general, had Martin Luther King under constant surveillance by the FBI. He escalated the war in Vietnam and his secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, was responsible for the deaths of thousands of our fighting men there.
Unlike Mr. Schorr, I don't buy into the Kennedy clan as "Camelot."
In June 1963, President Kennedy visited Berlin, an island of freedom surrounded by Communist East Germany and the Soviet Army. Speaking from a podium near the Berlin Wall, he wanted to express his, and the American people's, solidarity with the isolated people of Berlin. He wanted to say, "I am a Berliner," so he said "Ich bin ein Berliner."
Unfortunately, there was a small glitch in his German. The American president actually proclaimed to the world "I am a jelly doughnut!" On the cover of the next issue of the German magazine "Stern," there was a picture of a jelly doughnut with a mouth drawn on it saying, "Ich bin ein Berliner!" There must have been some snickers in the crowd when he said it, but the Germans cheered wildly. They loved him.
Five months later, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Across eight time zones it was already evening when the news was broadcast in Berlin. An American sergeant who was stationed there at the time told me that he was in a German beer hall when the band suddenly stopped playing. The owner announced that Kennedy had been assassinated and asked everyone to leave, because he was closing in 10 minutes. They finished up in silence.
Less than 10 minutes later, the American sergeant was walking back to his barracks through a residential area. There was already a candle in the window of every German home he passed.
Thomas P. McKenna
Regarding your Nov. 18 article "When silence can be fatal": Today's American youth increasingly find themselves without the significant adult support, guidance, and emotional connection that was once more commonplace among families and throughout society. In the absence of these adult bonds, the many stressors that plague 21st-century youth are manifested as depression, hopelessness, and, consequently, behaviors that put their health at risk.
Yet academicians and clinicians continue with simplistic, quick-fix treatments of the symptoms rather than management of the causes. It is this continued myopia that propels the struggling adolescent into seeking temporary relief through substance abuse, injudicious sex, or a more permanent and tragic resolution in suicide. Mental-health awareness and positive emotional development cannot be instilled through a pill, school assembly, or the mindless chants of "just say no." There are no shortcuts.
There are topics that must be discussed with youth, as they are vital to improving the chances for safe passage to adulthood. Rape, incest, pedophilia, sexual harassment, and of course suicide, to name only a few, require highly skilled adult facilitation through methods and environments that are sensitive, trusted, and understanding. Sadly, this is not reflected in current practice.
Above all else, young people, especially those who are vulnerable, need an emotional bond with a caring and accessible adult.
Michael J. Basso
Author, "The Underground Guide to Teenage Sexuality"
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