Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rant #512: JFK and the Babe

Today marks two interesting anniversaries.

Seventy six years ago today, in 1935, Babe Ruth hit his 714th, and final, home run of his career.

Although he was best known for his heroics with the New York Yankees, Ruth was a few years separated from the Bronx Bombers. His last home run was hit while he was a member of the Boston Braves.

His 714 home runs was a record that stood for more than 30 years, until Hank Aaron broke it. Of course, Barry Bonds broke Aaron's record, but that is a story for another time.

Twenty six years after the Babe hit his final homer--and 50 years ago to the day--President John F. Kennedy was hitting his own homer. He hit the ball out of the park today in 1961 when he said, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."

After that mandate was set, we made that proclamation come true. Although JFK never lived to see it, man did land on the moon, not just once but several times.

Although these two anniversaries really have nothing in common with each other other than sharing the same date in history, JFK and the Babe do share some similarities.

Both were truly larger than life figures.

Both had many rumors swirling about them related to infidelity.

Both died way too young.

With all their faults, both were looked up to by millions, and to this day, people speak reverentially about both of them.

It is amazing that years after their death, they are still in the hearts and minds of the nation.

Is there an American who hasn't heard of each one? Is there an American who can't provide at least one interesting morsel about each of them--even if they weren't around when these two men lived?

Each man signified an era.

Ruth certainly signified the Roaring 20s, when Prohibition was in and the Depression was right around the corner. Ruth did everything in excess, which certainly signified the pre-Depression years of the flappers.

JFK did everything in excess, too, and he signified the move from the plain 1950s to the revolutionary Swingin' Sixties, although he never really got to see how that decade turned out.

You wouldn't think that this poor kid from Baltimore and this rich kid from New England had much in common, but they certainly did.

They also shared and lived one more thing:

The American Dream, and each one of them proved that no matter how you start out in life, with the right breaks and talent, you can live it.

I would like to think that that feeling is still true today.

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