Nov.22 1963 - Nov. 22 2013
Most baby boomers can tell you where they were and what they were doing when JFK [President John F. Kennedy] was assassinated 50 years ago today. I was 7 years ago. I remember a lot of the adults crying, even though we lived in Canada, and it was the US President who had been shot and killed. That`s all there was on the two t.v. stations we got back then. There were lots and lots of talking heads. It lasted a few weeks. I kept a scrapbook of newspaper pictures. It' still around somewhere. I was pretty young but I knew it was very, very scary and sad.
John Jr. salutes his father goodbye!
My first recollection of JFK is from the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy was on television giving an ultimatum for the Soviet Union to remove it`s rockets from Cuba or else. It was pretty serious, that`s all I really understood. My parents were very worried. A few days later as the crisis heated up Sister So and So sent us all home from school at lunch because, she said, there was going to be a war. My family was living for awhile in the town of Deep River in the Ottawa Valley. Everybody`s parents were at work or out and about, nobody home. All my classmates including myself got our toy guns and helmets. We hid in the woods down the street waiting for the Russian attack. Air raid sirens were going off and jets were scrambling overhead leaving long vapour trails in the sky. We thought it was going to be like "Combat" a popular t.v. show at the time.
Jack and Jackie in the Dallas motorcade moments before. All is well.
Afterwards I was always very interested in what had really happened. In university I completed my Honours B.A with a specialist in International Relations, a minor in Canadian Foreign Policy. I studied Canada and Cuba during the Cold War. Since then I've gone to Cuba an awful lot. Thirty times I think but I lost count. Once I located an old rusted Russian surface to air missile site in the centre of a crop field outside Santiago de Cuba. It looked like something out of a Buck Rogers movie, and had obviously been long out of use.
I crept through the fields to take a photo. A Cuban soldier caught me. He was yelling and waving his rifle in the air. One of my Cuban amigos suggest I give him a lighter and some ball point pens. He let me sit cowboy style on the rocket for a picture like in the movie "Dr. Strangelove or How I stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb"`.
Good bye JFK!
Since then I`ve looked for some of the old rocket sites. They are probably all grown over by decades of brush growth, lost somewhere to the jungles of time. Once however I did find the tail section of the U2 spy plane the Cuban artillery shot down at the height of the Cuban Missile crisis. The wreckage was proudly displayed in a small village museum up the mountainside in Trinidad de Cuba. It was kind of neat to touch it, a link to a time long past. I suppose in my mind`s eye I am still that little boy sitting in the woods alone with my friends waiting for the end of the world, ready to go down fighting. That's pretty much me even today though I am now retired + middle aged.
I got so caught up in the story that I once even took one of my politics classes to Cuba on a study trip. I met some close Cuban teacher friends and have since developed the Cuban Schools Project to provide educational aid. Their story of that day pretty much parallels mine in many ways. However it is only one in a long string of events that carries on though until today. There is still a crippling US embargo against Cuba since just after the botched 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, when Fidel Castro declared the country a socialist republic.
Did you know there was a signed greeting on a box of Cuban cigars from Che Guevara on President Kennedy`s desk when he died? Apparently JFK was going to lift the embargo. Of course people also say there wouldn`t have been a Vietnam War had he lived. It`s all speculation. We really don`t know although a lot of the pundits still figure the tumultuous sixties would have turned out quite differently had he not been assassinated.
Today is the 50th anniversary since he was killed. Quite a few classified documents were supposed to be finally released. Maybe we will find out a lot more of the real story, including whether Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman who shot President Kennedy. Maybe we won`t. JFK certainly had a lot of enemies from the mafia, to US steel, the US military establishment, J. Edgar Hoover, the list goes on and on. Some pundits even blame the Cubans, though Fidel Castro is adamant he had no reason. Apparently Kennedy and he quite understood each other very well after the crisis. It will be interesting to see if anything really important is declassified but don`t hold your breath.
The smokin' gun?
There are certainly many questionable layers of truth to every aspect of the Kennedy legacy. For years the public myth was that the early sixties were a golden era like Camelot. He was the king, wife Jackie the queen. America was on a quest to save the world and on the home front everything was hunky dory. I could go on and on but it`s not really true. We know better and are not so naive today. However the big question still lingers. What really happened? Why? A lot of`the truth about JFK and the real Camelot was probably silenced forever in our lifetime by a hail of bullets on November 22 1963. My guess is we will never know, but I hope I'm wrong.
Me: "Psssst! Pssst! Mr. President: The protective roof!... Put up the roof ....the roof.... No! I'm not kidding!!! Ho boy!" [I wish!]
Most people today weren't born then, so of course they won't remember that day. However every generation seems to experience a pivotal defining moment. Something just plain awful inexplicably happens. Time seems to stop. Everyone and everything is in free fall for awhile as the world pivots, and life then continues on a different course, 9/11 being the most recent case in point.
Do you believe in Conspiracy theories? To this day we still are not quite sure what really happened or why to JFK in Dallas on Nov. 22 2013. At the time the press + limited TV media was much more easier for the various interests + powers that be to manipulate and control, thereby withholding a lot of information from us. In the modern electronic global village everybody has been all over 9/11 from the get go. Perhaps we are no longer so malleable or naive, or are we?
The US government sure is royally p.o'ed about the Wiki leaks. Look at all the BS they brought to light! Be careful! 9/11 resulted in a major reversal of privacy and civil right laws to ostensibly catch some often very unlikely terrorists and evil doers in both the US and Canada. Some really questionable wars and dicking about in the middle east have also followed in the confusion. I remember JFK. Might I suggest you should think about it too!
50 years later: Hey! This must be the grassy knoll!?!
Some News Links
Here's what Nealy Plaza, Dallas, Texas, where Kennedy was shot, looks like today. It has truly become a pop mecca, which is interesting and fascinating in and of itself @ JFK site pix
Interesting class plan? Compare the political, social, economic and strategic implications of the Kennedy assassination during the 1960's + 70's with those of 9/11 today?
Some interesting new JFK resources: Here are what 3 witnesses to the Kennedy assassination recently had to say. Evil can seem so indifferent, unexpected and even bland @ Dallas
Kennedy autopsy: The head wound
I realize my blogsite JFK slide show was rather brutally realistic this year, but then so was the Kennedy assassination. Its time to stop hiding from that. No more niceties or denial. Let's make it clear: Kennedy was first shot through the throat. Jackie K leaned over to ask him what was the matter. As she was looking into his eyes, the next bullet blew off the top right side of his head, sending his brains flying all over her + the rear of the car. The Kennedy assassination photos show Jackie crawl out on the back trunk. In shock despite the risk, she was scooping them back into the car. Interesting footnote: one leftover bullet was later found still loaded in Lee Harvey Oswald's rifle. He didn't use it on her.
A lot of what happened was not known then. A lot is quite possibly still not known now.
The Beach Boys remember recording their hit "Warmth of the Sun" on Nov 22. They explain how their feelings at the time affected the music @ Warmth
The big question that will always haunt the baby boom generation: What would've happened differently since Nov 22 1963 had JFK lived. I read the Steven King book "November 22 1963". An interesting concept of time travel but a crap out at the end. For some more thoughtful and credible insights consider @ Huffington