When that thin veil of grief descended on November 22, 1963, irrevocably dividing hope from the future, I could not have anticipated that the grief would come again so fresh fifty years later. I have lost, this country has lost, the art of language in political discourse, the love of rhetoric in the service of justice. Our basic cultural myth is, essentially, creation by the word, and I have seen in these fifty years the degradation of political process and commonality by the insistence on a increasingly simplistic vocabulary. Language creates ideas, creates our reality.
Take this one example of language: where once the President and First Lady were known to the Secret Service as Lancer and Lace, they have now for several administrations been known at POTUS and FLOTUS -- sounds that can only evoke public lavatories.
These were the Secret Service codes fifty years ago:
The First Family:
Vice Presidential Group:
SS 100 X
Secret Service Agents:
White House Communications: