There are certain events in history which, for those who were alive at the time of the event, will remain imbedded in their memory for the rest of their lives; whether it was a sporting event, a world catastrophe, great human achievement or the death of an important or famous person.
If your long-term memory is as acute as mine, (it’s strictly genetics folks, my Mom had it, her Mom had it and some of my siblings have this gift/curse), you will remember details of exactly where you were, who you were with, what the weather was like and how others were reacting to the same event. VE Day, the first manned landing on the Moon, Paul Henderson’s goal in the Summit Series in 1972, or the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, are exactly the kinds of events that I am talking about.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, exactly 50 years ago this Friday. Fifty-years ago and the debate still rages on as to who killed JFK and why, but more on that debate later.
My Dad, Mom and five of my nine siblings were living in Gravelbourg at the time. My brother Gordie was my closest friend and he was a year-and-a-half older than me. We did everything together. We always walked the five or six blocks to school and home every morning, lunchtime and at the end of the school day, usually with our buddies Bobby Nickish, and Wayne and Walter Schmidt.
We were always jacking around doing six and seven-year-old stuff, roughhousing and such, and November 22nd, 1963 seemed no different than any other day walking home for lunch. But Gord and I knew that something was up the second we walked through the back door of our house. We were shushed sooner than usual and the seriousness and sorrow in the room made it obvious that something terrible had happened. Did Grandma die? Did someone else in the family die?
When you’re very young and your parents and older siblings are really upset…you’re upset. What was going on? Dad quietly explained, as best he could to two young boys, about what had transpired in Dallas and at that particular moment there weren’t a lot of details other than the fact that the President of the United States had been shot. Mom and Dad and my older sisters were watching the TV and listening to the radio reports as they were coming in but my brother and I were shooed back to school before President Kennedy was even pronounced dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. So many years later, acute memory aside, the memories of that day have faded somewhat but I do recall a solemn walk back to school wondering how such a terrible event could happen at all and who would do such a thing.
That was the general feeling of most of the free world that day and the helplessness would feed conspiracy theorists for the next five decades. How could a Communist sympathizing, 24 year-old high-school dropout, (ex-marine dropout, by the way, with a US Marines’ shooting test classification of “sharpshooter” in 1956 and “marksman” in 1959), buy a mail-order rifle and shoot the King of Camelot, the American Golden Boy and THE President of the United States? If he wasn’t safe who the heck was? Who was next?
I’ve read reams and reams of information on the subject and watched numerous documentaries and there is so much information available on the internet now that I couldn’t possibly live long enough to digest it all but I’m leaning towards the “lone gunman theory” regardless of the Conspiracy Theorists.
You don’t have to believe me, though, do your own research and decide for yourself, if you haven’t already, but before you do check out author Brad Meltzer’s Decoded series for an in depth look at the complete story.
Fifty years later and the subject will still spark a lively debate. Whether you were alive at the time, or not, the assassination of John F. Kennedy will remain one of the most talked about, tragic and infamous moments in, not just the 20th Century, but in all of human history.
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”-John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)