April 28, 2014 -- Reflections on 60

publication date: Apr 27, 2014
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April 28, 2014 -- Reflections on 60

Many people can remember when they hit the decadinal age markers in their lives. When I turned 30, I was on temporary duty in the Navy in Manila of all places. That night consisted of how many San Miguel beers I could down, truly not an evening for personal reflection. At age 40, I spent my time celebrating with close friends in Washington, DC. The half-century mark was quietly spent with family in Florida. But now, as I reach 60, the day will be one of actual personal reflection without any of the hoopla of Manila at 30 and nostalgic remembrances at age 50.

I have to say, I feel lucky to still be alive and in good health. At this stage, a number of friends have died, some before they reached 60.

And it has been quite a kaleidoscope of major historical events that have occurred during my lifetime: the first man in outer space (he was a Russian, incidentally), the assassination of a young American president, almost back-to-back assassinations of the aforementioned president's brother and presidential hopeful preceded by the shooting of America's premier civil rights leader, and an unpopular war in Southeast Asia (in which I was in zone for the draft) and the stepping down of that war's chief proponent from the White House.

There was the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which I recall my father telling me and my brother to pack a few things we wanted to keep because he might have to come home from work early and drive us all to the Poconos to be "away from the radiation" and the nuclear bombs. Heavy stuff for an 8-year old.

Then we saw a major political scandal that resulted in the resignation of a president and the installation of the first president unelected by the American people. America's first movie star president followed, along with another major scandal involving arms for hostages. A Pope was shot in the Vatican and another was killed with poison-laced tea. Two space shuttles disintegrated on live television. And who could forget the son of a close personal friend of the vice president shooting the incumbent president after being permitted past police and Secret Service lines?

A wall fell bringing not freedom and liberty to Eastern Europe but austerity and NATO.

There was a presidential impeachment over a sex scandal and then the dawn of a new millennium. Another president, the son of his predecessor's predecessor, became the chief executive in a stolen election. A major terrorist attack took place on American soil and that was followed by an unprovoked U.S. attack on a country that had nothing to do with the attack on the United States. There was also the first modern biological warfare attack, which targeted the U.S. Congress, the Postal Service, and the news media. The first African-American president was elected into office and a sitting Pope resigned amid a major pedophilia and financial scandal in the Catholic Church.

It has been 60 years of the "good, the bad, and the ugly."

Covering news events has made this reporter not only cynical but also unbelieving of anything that emanates from any government anywhere in the world. If that means I am a believer in conspiracies after seeing enough of them play out in real life before and during my time as a journalist, then so be it.

The one really meaningful "birthday present" was seeing on the big screen an adaptation of one of my news reports, that of the suspicious deaths of retired commercial pilot and 9/11 author Phil Marshall and his children. Kudos to film producer and director Eric Stacey and actor Dennis Fitzpatrick for helping to show that real journalism is done by expending shoe leather. Going out to talk to people, getting one's "hands dirty," confronting authorities, and calling out major news media outlets on their continuing lines of bullshit. That's what the news business is all about. What a great way to celebrate number 60 but to see yourself portrayed doing what you want to do: uncovering the truth, comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable.

As for The Daily Beast, Wikipedia, CNN, the neo-con Twitterers, and the so-called "main stream" blatherers who wouldn't know a real news story from a Mother Goose fairy tale, I'll be as cynical and conspiratorial as I damned well please. And another message for them: "Get off my lawn, you kids!"

And one more thought. If time is a constant value, except, perhaps, in a black hole, why is it that the last 30 years have flown by faster than the first 30?

From 0 to 60: 60 years seem more like 60 months. Stop this speeding train!

I will now imbibe with a nice bottle of Greek retsina. Cheers!

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