This is part of the involuntary bargain we make with the world just by being alive. We get to experiences the splendor of nature, the beauty of art, the balm of love and the sheer joy of existence, always with the knowledge that illness, injury, natural disaster, or pure evil can end it in an instant for ourselves or someone we love.
In early 1961 a new president, John F. Kennedy, was told by military leaders and civilian officials that the Kingdom of Laos - of no conceivable strategic importance to the U.S. - required the presence of American troops and perhaps even tactical nuclear weapons. Why? Because if Laos fell, Asia would go red from Thailand to Indonesia.
Men and women in my lifetime have died fighting for the right to vote: people like James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who were murdered while registering black voters in Mississippi in 1964, and Viola Liuzzo, who was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in 1965 during the Selma march for voting rights.