Follow him on Twitter at anthonyted. In that respect, the lives of these two — and similar figures who survive them — hold clues still to be uncovered. Ted Kennedy shaped America much more than John F.
In the past few days, the American packaging machine has pulled these two lives into slick renditions of who they actually were. The s were a time of great and lurching change.
They were living reminders. They wanted to bring the past into the present. Lives of high drama, yes, but staying power, too. They became emblems of an era, and the packaging of their virtues and vices has never really stopped.
At a juncture like this, faced with this pair of memorials of a man and woman so very different and yet so uniquely representative of the American experience, what better time to stop and think about such figures, about what they meant and mean?
Think of the most dominant, most kinetic narratives of the 60s, the fiery combustion engines that drove the decade: Looking past all else, the main story of the s was change — causing it, managing it, figuring out how to live with it.
But those who were shaped by the decade continue to influence it, both alive and dead.
Since the s, the country has only gotten more complicated and, many believe, even more fraught. They moved across decades and changes and navigated a culture that their younger selves would not have recognized. Those who made it through often had to change again and again — continuously, even.
The United States is often accused of being an ahistorical nation, and these fragmentary, Twitter-feed-like glimpses of entire lives make that assertion easier to prove. They exit the stage together in an American moment not unlike the period when each emerged.
Video montages, photo slide shows, memories and even the pleasingly compact monikers we throw around — the "Queen of Soul" and the "Maverick" — are sweet and nostalgic, yes.
And the stories of race and gender in America remain raw, ragged and aggressively unresolved. Each navigated historical currents — rode them, you might even argue — and each figured out how to remain relevant and impactful on their communities.
When personal experience ebbs, myth fills in the mortar between the bricks. That might be the ultimate echo of that long-ago decade that Aretha Franklin and John McCain leave us with this week.From race, gender and music (Franklin) to war and politics (McCain), they are contained in the two figures to whom we bid farewell this week.
FILE - In this Aug. 26,file photo, flags flying a half-staff in honor of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., frame the U.S. Capital at daybreak in Washington. McCain, 81, died at his ranch in.
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Sen. John McCain is remembered by family, friends and hundreds in Phoenix before his body lies in state at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. AP Essay: Aretha Franklin, John McCain and the s.file photo, Sen.
John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks after he received the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center in. This incredible New York Times photo essay from Sen.
John McCain's memorials weaves poignant images with videos from the multiday event to form a touching tribute worthy of a man who so ardently served his country from service member to senator.Download