11.22.63: A Monumental Anniversary
November 21, 2013
November 21, 2013
Photo credit: Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston
Okay. I admit it. I am obsessed with the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
And even though it has been 50 years since that terrible day in Dallas, it is as raw as it was on Nov. 22, 1963. I have tried to watch several of the television specials – even “Killing Kennedy”. It somehow never gets old. I agree with Cokie Roberts who said that America has had a very hard time accepting that such a monumental event could have been done by such a small man. We somehow have never been able to fully accept that.
When I was an undergraduate student at Brandeis, I took a course that has stuck with me all these many years since. It was called “Conspiracy Theories” and was—and still is— taught by Professor Jacob (Jerry) Cohen. He pushed us all and made us read the Warren report and countless other accounts of the events in Dallas. He was adamant that there was a single assassin and it was difficult to complete that course and still harbor doubts. But doubts there were and they persisted. On the one hand, it would be easier somehow to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald, for a reason we will never know, decided to kill Kennedy and did so from his lone perch on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. But what about Jack Ruby and his easy access to the basement of the police headquarters? How could that happen? Again, we will never know and that makes it all the more difficult to accept.
That event and the scrum of television cameras and reporters huddled and unfettered in that basement, changed how the media covers live events and how law enforcement deals with the media. Can you imagine today for example, a suspected assassin being given the opportunity to speak directly to the media? That would never happen. But there was Oswald, claiming his innocence for all the world to see and hear.
Twenty years after the assassination, I made my way to Dallas for a job producing a weekly newsmagazine show for the public television station there. The very first place I had to visit, had to drive by, had to be a witness to, was the Texas School Book Depository and Dealey Plaza. I remember driving by (as the motorcade had) and being moved again by the event that changed my life and that of our nation forever.
So, I will continue to watch and remember.