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The Assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Legacy it Left Behind [Videos]

The Grassy Knoll, Dealy Plaza, Dallas

THE ASSASSINATION of John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the beginning of the shredding of government trust in the modern era. On this Thanksgiving Day, with all the news swirling around Benghazi, our secret drone wars and our fetish for the “zipless coup,” the legacy of Kennedy’s murder and the doubt and distrust of our government is something we still struggle with today.

Gerald Posner has written what is considered by some to be the definitive book that is meant to prove Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin.

I have spent countless hours over decades studying this subject over my lifetime. Hearing Mark Lane in lectures, among others, I remain a hardened skeptic of the late Arlen Specter’s “single bullet” theory. An interview with “conspiracy theorist” Mark Lane and William F. Buckley is a classic in the J.F.K. assassination material, as is the the mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald videos, with U.S. lawyers Vincent Bugliosi and Gerry Spence.

So many decades later, what happened after his death is not a focus, which is unfortunate, because the legacy of John F. Kennedy’s assassination is the rip it caused in the trust of government for an entire generation, which was passed down and continues to be shared.

For many people, including those much older than myself who remember every detail without having to study the history, there is much that remains unsatisfying and unconvincing about the Warren Commission Report and the “magic bullet” theory, guided by the late Senator Arlen Specter.

I’ve traveled to Dallas, walked the route. I’ve read the books. I’ve excavated the history. An exact replica of J.F.K.’s rocking chair sits across from me in my office. And the one thing that remains from the legacy of the J.F.K. assassination, the investigation and the Warren Report is the lack of transparency and the quick way in which the investigation was conducted and concluded.

For a generation of people who remember the 1960s, people who came of age in this era, spent our teens amid tumult, the beginning of distrusting the government began with John F. Kennedy’s assassination. It includes Jack Ruby’s role in killing Lee Harvey Oswald, a moment that slammed the lid down on what else might be learned and known.

Conspiracy theories were given further flight in the aftermath of government secrecy this day in 1963.

A gun expert, my husband hasn’t studied the minutia like I have of this historic event and the repercussions, but he still can’t reconcile the gun Oswald is to have used to assassinate John F. Kennedy, with the time frame in which he was supposed to have pulled the trigger multiple times.

Oliver Stone took conspiracy theories ’round the bend in his weird, but haunting film that tells a tiny part of the true story surrounding District Attorney of New Orleans Jim Garrison and the only case ever brought against anyone regarding the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

As an aside, if you’ve never seen the 1974 “Missiles of October,” starring William Devane as J.F.K., Martin Sheen as Bobby Kennedy,” it’s a TV classic made for a holiday afternoon. “The Kennedys,” which was kept off major networks, Greg Kinnear starring as J.F.K., with Barry Pepper as Robert F. Kennedy stealing the show, is another one worth watching. There was no reason to keep “The Kennedys” from airing, in my expert opinion, and the same people who hated the myth crashing details of Jack’s drug use and abuse depicted in the TV drama would have detested my one-woman show, because I spared him god status and went for the man as he was, flawed, voraciously sexual and deeply haunted, and did the same for his wife Jackie.

For history buffs and J.F.K. students, this YouTube channel is walk through time. Follow the links within and you’ll be on a journey into a time in U.S. history when our country exploded, the contagion leading to the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, but also Richard Nixon’s presidency and the belief a president and our government could hide the facts from we the people and pay no price for institutionalizing public ignorance.

It is why every year on this day I remember what happened, but more importantly, the legacy of doubt and mistrust of our government that was reborn on this day so many decades ago.

Sentimentalizing a fallen American isn’t all that stunning, especially when you read Kennedy’s speeches, and ponder how young he died. There is a romanticism that goes along with young death, especially of a slain president, particularly when the government investigation goes to such lengths to be done and closed too quickly and the public feels robbed of understanding.

The country changed forever the day John F. Kennedy was murdered.

This article has been updated. One commenter mentioned the testimony of Ruth Paine, with interviews at that link.

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26 Responses to The Assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Legacy it Left Behind [Videos]

  1. secularhumanizinevoluter November 22, 2012 at 6:01 am #

    The day JFK was assassinated was the first day of the long excruciating demise of the grand experiment of Government of, by and for the people.

  2. Jane Austen November 22, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    JFK was the first President I ever voted for. I don’t think my generation thought of him as so much of a god but as someone who was willing to include the young in the process. He inspired us to go out and make the world better. Many of us answered that call. The shock of his assassination and then the Warren Commission’s Report was just too mind boggling. We couldn’t accept the Report. There were too many questions that had gone unanswered. I wonder if that is when the media became complicit with the government in keeping the truth from the American people. I always questioned “the grassy knoll.” I still do to this day. We questioned the lack of security around Oswald, how did Jack Ruby make his way into the building so he could shoot Oswald. We were young but we had our own questions. Those questions have never been answered.

    The idealism that JFK brought to this country seemed to have gone. Like Taylor says, “The country changed forever the day John F. Kennedy was murdered. ” And I still weep.

  3. StrideHyde November 22, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    Has anyone here studied the testimony of one Ruth Hyde Paine?

    • Taylor Marsh November 23, 2012 at 8:31 am #

      HERE is an interesting compilation for those interested.

      Thanks for offering something of substance & interest on the subject.

  4. jjamele November 22, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    I don’t think that the continued deification of John F Kennedy is particularly helpful. When Kennedy died, we were a nation still steeped in the muck of racism, where rural and urban poverty continued to put the lie to the myth of America as a society devoted to equality (Michael Harrington’s “The Other America” and Edward R Murrow’s “Harvest of Shame” had just been released) and the Kennedy Administration was making precious little headway, instead focusing on undermining “anti-American” but Democratically elected leaders in Africa and Central America. For every Peace Corps dollar there were fifty for the Military Industrial Complex.

    We need to get over this idea that somehow, Everything Changed when JFK died. He was not leading us to the promised land. He was a politician who worked within a system that was becoming increasingly corrupt and dominated by the military since before World War II. It was Kennedy who promoted the myth of the “Missile Gap” to frighten us into investing more in military technology. It was Kennedy who sent advisors to South Vietnam to teach a totalitarian government the basics of torture and police brutality.

    I couldn’t care less about his womanizing, StrideHyde- Kennedy was a politician, and a mortal. Not an image or a God. The faster we stop marking his death as some major turning point and deal with reality, the better- because that’s when we stop looking for The Next Kennedy (Carter, Clinton, Obama) and start looking to ourselves for the answers.

    • Uh-oh November 22, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

      As someone who remembers that day well, I would say that Taylor is right–an entire generation lost faith in and respect for our government at that moment. It really had nothing to do with how anyone felt about Kennedy himself. It was all about the media and all of the government lying and constructing stupid fairy tales about what happened. The outright lying and coverup were too blatant to be ignored and the young people took notice. Soon that old chestnut “America, love it or leave it.” was brought out and we have been on a downward slope since then.

      The real key is the loss of respect. We can never go back. We have seen this in the lack of respect for the office of President (no matter WHO holds the office) as well as a lack of any respect for congress or the Supreme Court.

    • StrideHyde November 22, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

      jjamele: I’m not sure why you mentioned me when you mentioned Kennedy’s womanizing. Ruth Hyde Paine has absolutely nothing to do with that.

  5. ladywalker68 November 22, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    I am still trying the find the part in Taylor’s post where she deified Kennedy. Things changed, not because Kennedy was a god, but because of the bullshit that surrounded the explanation of his assassination. It was the pulling back of the curtain, tearing off the the mask and realizing that our government eats its own.

    • Taylor Marsh November 23, 2012 at 8:47 am #

      Trying to find something that wasn’t written is tough! ;-)

  6. fangio November 22, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    His beautiful words simply did not support his actions. His supporters like to say that it was his inexperience that led him to trust the CIA and go along with the Bay of Pigs invasion, but the man had been in congress and was an officer in the Navy; he was not a novice when it came to dealing with powerful figures. He and Bobby had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the civil rights conflict because they both feared losing the southern vote. Johnson was not in Kennedy’s car the day of the assassination because Connelly, a man Johnson hated, was more important to Kennedy in the run up to re-election. It was indeed a strange twist of fate that a man the Kennedy’s used, and then ignored, should become the vessel by which their grand ideas should become reality. That same man was eventually brought low by another of their less glorious misadventures; Vietnam. I have always believed that it was Vietnam that destroyed whatever future this country had. What we did in Vietnam, from beginning to end, was a template for what would come.

    • Taylor Marsh November 23, 2012 at 8:41 am #

      Most every president in modern time has continued what the previous president set in motion and Kennedy was no different with the Bay of Pigs, planned before he took office.

      Your blanket statement on “his supporters like to say it was his inexperience that let him to trust the CIA & go along with the Bay of Pigs invasion” is really quite worthlessly meaningless. Whoever those “supporters” are who weigh in like that are obviously uninformed. Fangio, you usually are more astute than this, but Kennedy wasn’t as naive as you’re writing, which proves to me you haven’t read the history, which is typical of most people weighing in on him. Not unusual, but unhelpful.

      See Obama on Afghanistan, the latest example of following the previous president’s plans.

      I notice throughout this comment section that there is no evidence that anyone has taken the time to read or listen to Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Again, not surprising, but unhelpful.

      As for Vietnam, Kennedy’s place is no different than what happens across the spectrum on foreign policy, with our involvement in Vietnam beginning in 1954, when we took over from the French, with Kennedy’s escalation not surprising at all given our foreign policy at the time.

      Sentimentalizing a fallen American isn’t all that stunning, especially when you read Kennedy’s speeches, and ponder how young he died. There is a romanticism that goes along with young death, especially of a slain president, particularly when the government investigation goes to such lengths to be done and closed too quickly and the public feels robbed of understanding.

      Look what happened when Reagan was almost assassinated. It let him get off the hook for Iran-Contra.

  7. jjamele November 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    I was responding more to Taylor’s opening sentence, which has that “Kennedy’s Assassination was the beginning of the end for all that was good about America” familiar echo to it. Like we were pure and innocent and our government was the same right up to the moment the fatal shot was fired, and since then it’s become dark and corrupt and evil. It’s just so much naive baloney.

    • Taylor Marsh November 23, 2012 at 8:26 am #

      If you’re going to quote me, get it right.

      The opening sentence was not what you write above and misrepresenting my opening salvo so you can go off on some self-righteous rant is manipulative at best.

      I’m not surprised of the ignorance surrounding the important of Kennedy’s assassination. I hear it every time I post something on him like this. The investigations of JFK’s assassination led to a modern day earthquake in how American citizens felt about their government, which was part of the entire Vietnam era of mistrust, which was continued in Nixon’s criminality and what came afterwards.

  8. secularhumanizinevoluter November 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Ah…so nice to hear from the I HATE EVERYTHING and I’M GONNA GO EAT WORMS contingent. NOT!
    DAMN it must suck to be so sour and pissed off at virtually EVERYTHING all the time!

    • jjamele November 22, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      You know, for someone who does next to nothing but spit incomprehensible, illiterate BULLSHIT at pretty much EVERYTHING, you sure have a low level of tolerance for the opinions of others.

      Here’s a clue for you- I couldn’t give a fat rat’s ass if you approve of my posts or not. So please, shovel some more of your Republiklan/teabagger bumper sticker crap and stop trying to tell us what to post. Or better yet, just shut the fuck up for once and let the adults converse.

      • fangio November 22, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

        He’s been unhappy since his gastric bypass surgery. Just can’t shovel as much turkey in his face like the old days.

        • secularhumanizinevoluter November 22, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

          And I thought we had reached such a warm fuzzy point in our relationship….oh well, I’m sure you shoveled enough turkey…probably about the same amount as the male bovine fecal matter that came gushing outta your face back in. happy Turkey day to you too!!

      • secularhumanizinevoluter November 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

        In case you didn’t notice I merely pointed out what a pissy, moaning, wanna eat worms kinda poster you are.
        I never tried to tell you what to post. I recognize your limitations and felt they were worth pointing out in a gentle sortta way.
        It greives me that you would think that I would….not really a very adult assumption to make when you stop to think about it. But then stopping to think doesn’t appear to be your strong suite do it?
        Oh well, have a nice Thanksgiving anyway…and a merry Christmas to…unless that mean ol Obama takes that away from you also.

        • jjamele November 22, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

          Someone told you once that you were clever, or witty, or something. They were just being nice. They did you no favors, and the rest of us a grave disservice.

          • secularhumanizinevoluter November 23, 2012 at 7:56 am #

            Did I mention have a Merry Christmas? Hopefully you will be able to actually understand what that means since from the above exchange you seem to be having some sort of basic perceptual problem. That along with a persecution…dare one say paranoia thingy going on.

  9. Taylor Marsh November 23, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    The conversation between jjamele, who laid the bait, then secularh biting, and now fangio above, is really depressing to read. The level of discourse makes the comment section on this post not worth having at all.

    • secularhumanizinevoluter November 23, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

      “secularh biting”? Moi? I am often amazed at how pointing out reality is considered “biting” at “bait”. Frankly glorifying the pissy swill posted as thought out “bait” as opposed to the usual anti-everything drivel expected from some is giving FAR to much credit.
      I suppose I should fall beck to the old Democratic Party tactic of remaining silent and ceding the field to the gibbering, irrational mob?
      REALLY Ms. Marsh…me thinks a double standard is beginning to appear!(Not really…but fun to imitate some of the folks who perceive themselves put upon)

    • fangio November 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

      Your reply to my comment does not make any sense to me. ” But Kennedy wasn’t as naive as your writing. ” I never said he was naive; I said the opposite. I said his supporters painted him as naive. ” Your blanket statement that ” His supporters like to say that it was his inexperience that led him to trust the CIA and go along with the Bay Of Pigs invasion ” is really quite worthlessly meaningless. ” I have no idea what that statement means. There’s nothing meaningless about it. ” Whoever those supporters are who weigh in like that are obviously uninformed. ” I have no idea what that means either. You write as if those ” supporters ” are in hiding and no one knows who they are. I know the history and I have not let ” Camelot ” get in the way of it. His ” supporters ” have always painted him as naive and letting the CIA lead him astray. As far as the Cuban Missile crisis, I never mentioned it. Finally, using the excuse that other presidents did the same thing only shows your bias. You obviously have a warm spot in your heart for Kennedy; I have no issue with that, but Johnson was a better president, regardless of Vietnam.

      • Taylor Marsh November 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

        Actually, the “warm spot” for JFK is not about him personally or politically, fangio. It’s about what he meant to my life, as seen through my brother, but also my sister, when he was shot, which was the beginning of my political journey, even if my career began in performing.

        I do admit (and have before) to having an unrelenting curiosity about how he navigated his life, the attachment people had/have to him, the man he was, which included lethal addictions and mind bending pain that paralyzed him at times, but also includes his womanizing sexism, which has been one of the studies of my adult life.

        Your judgment of perceived bias is your opinion, which doesn’t concern me.

        But you are stunningly incorrect to think that in 1960 what other presidents did before doesn’t matter and is founded on the fantasy that a president can come in and change the military industrial complex on a dime. Fifty years later Obama found that to be a futile supposition, but for some reason you’re still hanging on to it, so I’ll leave you to it.

        As for the Cuban Missile crisis, that you negated to mention it is the point, because you can’t have a discussion about Kennedy’s power w/o it. That you would reveals your own bias, which is unhelpful in this discussion.

        On whole, the entire discussion here was unsatisfying to read, started with jjamele, because people hijacked it & didn’t talk about the assassination, which was the subject. Then came the personal insults. Next time I write on this subject I will close the comments because too many of you are incapable of addressing the topic at hand, preferring to hear yourself.

        Kennedy gets too little credit on some things (Steel industry, but especially the Cuban Missile Crisis, among others) and his lofty word salads in an age of the modern cultural earthquake too much credit, except that he was a wholly different type of man speaking them. Senator Edward M. Kennedy solidified that fact.

        As for Lyndon Johnson, he was a more effective politician, one of the greatest, and also underrated as one, but your statement about his presidency, backed by “regardless of Vietnam,” is ridiculous.

        secularh – There is no double standard, sec. It’s how you continually respond to people with personal insults, though you aren’t alone, just the most infamous. ;-) I get emails on how you attack people personally & the double standard that I don’t call you out enough. Sometimes it just gets too much.

  10. Jane Austen November 23, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    “Sentimentalizing a fallen American isn’t all that stunning, especially when you read Kennedy’s speeches, and ponder how young he died. There is a romanticism that goes along with young death, especially of a slain president, particularly when the government investigation goes to such lengths to be done and closed too quickly and the public feels robbed of understanding.” TM

    If the young cried over Kennedy it was because he allowed the young to dream about something more than the Cold War. Growing up in the 50′s it was the Cold War on the foreign front and “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” on the domestic front, all lily white programs. We lived in a white world. We knew what was happening in the south with segregation, the lynchings, Brown v Board of Ed, whites in control. We also understood de facto segregation. When he charged us to “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” many of us answered that call in a variety of ways. Has anyone ever wondered why 3 of the most respected men of the 60s (JFK, RFK, MLK) were gunned down during that decade? You cannot minimize JFK’s impact on the young because for many of us it led to other avenues of protest and demonstration; for some it led to public service and a lifetime of commitment to making life better for other people.

    When Kennedy died, the Warren Commission came to a conclusion that I could not accept because I felt it was too quick (this was the death of the President after all) and didn’t tell the whole truth. There may have been distrust of government on other fronts but not the kind of distrust that came with the Warren Commission Report. It was unbelievable.

    • Taylor Marsh November 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

      Appreciate a view from someone who remembers the history of the times.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong