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.
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.