The Gift and Burden of Anniversaries

p>In a nation that looks relentlessly forward?Is that an iPhone4 you?ve got there, loser??anniversaries are both necessary and oddly popular. They give us an excuse, a sort of temporal safe zone, to think a bit at the world we?ve left behind. It doesn?t take the media-entertainment complex (that?s us!) long to occupy such safe zones with our own meditations, spins, stories and souvenirs. We?re fast approaching perhaps the mother of all ghoulishly market-friendly anniversaries. On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas by a man who?depending on which books you?ve been reading?was either a solitary misfit or the ultimate pawn in a master plot hatched by Mafiosi, hard-core anti-Castroites and shadowy American intelligence types. Kennedy?s iconic nature, his presence at the crossroads of a radically changing culture and the uncertainties surrounding his death have made his story ripe for retelling not only on round anniversaries, but even on angular ones. (Oliver Stone?s JFK came out around the 27th anniversary of the assassination. Go figure.) Working ahead of the 50th anniversary, we decided to narrow our focus and look specifically at Kennedy?s friendships, entanglements and legacy here in Las Vegas. David G. Schwartz, a historian and the director of UNLV?s Center for Gaming Research, has told a rich tale?one that, we hope, will start the commemoration season not merely with sensation, but with reflection.

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