John F. Kennedy is Murdered
On today’s date in 1963, 50 years ago, our nations 35’th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot while in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Governor John Connally of Texas, who was riding with Kennedy was also shot. The presidential limousine sped on to Parkland Memorial Hospital. There, President Kennedy was pronounced dead. Governor Connally was seriously wounded, but would eventually recover. Shortly after the President was murdered, a man named Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested and charged with the crime. Two days later, while being transferred to another police facility, Oswald was himself assassinated by a Dallas nightclub owner, one Jack Ruby. The new president, Lyndon Baines Johnson soon appointed a panel of eminent Americans (pictured below with Lyndon Johnson) to investigate the crime. Led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, the panel, known as the “Warren Commission”, concluded after a probe lasting several months that Oswald acted alone, and that Ruby did as well. No conspiracy either foreign or domestic was found to have been involved in either of the murders.
The Public Skepticism Over the Warren Commission’s Report
Those are the bare facts of the case. Ever since the Warren Com- mission’s report came out, there have been many questions raised as to the findings of the Warren Report. A veritable industry of conspiracy theories and theorists has grown up around this event. There are many reasons for this. One reason is that the American public has grown up since that time. Our government has since then been found to have lied to us on numerous occasions. The whole experience of Vietnam, Watergate, and other cases has greatly reduced the public’s willingness to accept the government’s word on matters of importance.
Questions About the Death of J.F.K.
And the particulars of JFK’s death do indeed lend themselves to considerable skepticism. There were any number of groups who would have been happy to see JFK dead. The Soviets, who had just been faced down in a standoff over the presence of Missiles in Cuba certainly had reasons. And the accused killer, Oswald, had at one time defected to the Soviet Union. He also had attempted to defect to Cuba. That country’s leader, Fidel Castro, certainly had no love for JFK. The attempted invasion of his country by US-backed rebels in the Bay of Pig’s fiasco had left him and his government very wary of American intentions. On the home front, the President’s brother Robert F. Kennedy had as the U.S. Attorney General been conducting successful probes against leaders of organized crime in the U.S. And Oswald’s killer, Jack Ruby had had links to organized crime. Further, although it was not known until some years later, RFK had been in charge of US efforts to assassinate Castro. Indeed, while he publicly accepted the Warren Commission’s conclusions, LBJ himself is now known to have believed that Castro had simply gotten to JFK before JFK got to Castro.
The Substance of J.F.K.
But the whole merry-go-round of conspiracy theories and theorists will be dealt with on November 24, the day that Oswald himself was shot. I want on this day to remember our murdered president. Much has been written about the magic qualities which he brought to the presidency,the glamour and the optimism. This author thinks that rather too much has been written about that. There was more than enough about JFK to point to him as a man of real substance and vision and to make him and his presidency worthy of study and also to make much of what he represented worthy of admiration. Yes, there were plenty of aspects of the man that were quite negative. His frequently cut-throat approach to politics, his persistent womanizing, which put him and his presidency at risk, as well as his policies all had things about them to concern anyone. The man was no saint, and his presidency was not all that successful at the time of his death.
“National Review” on the Death of J.F.K.
But his presidency had more than a year left to go when he was murdered. And we are now left with the tantalizing, yet melancholy consideration of what might have been. As to the meaning of his life and his presidency, I would like to quote the conservative magazine “National Review” which said at the time that Kennedy’s loss would be grieved:
“…. not because (his) policies were so universally beloved, but because he was a man so intensely charming, whose personal vigor and robust enjoyment of life so invigorated almost all who beheld him. The metabolism of the whole nation rose on account of the fairyland quality of the First Family. After all, no divine type caster could have done better than to get JFK to play JFK, Jackie to play Jackie, and the children to play themselves.”
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“JFK, The Man and the Myth” by Victor Lasky, Arlington House, New Rochelle, New York, 1966, pp. xi to xii.