My Turn: The haunting question

  • PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY

Published: 11/23/2021 7:09:43 AM
Modified: 11/23/2021 7:09:28 AM

Each November I experience that same chill, not of the season but a circling back of events of Nov. 22, 1963. The date resonates with fewer people each year. That was part of the planning of a plot to kill the first of four prominent Americans whose opposition threatened continuance of the Vietnam War.

To calm the country, new President Lyndon Johnson created a committee of inquiry to quickly establish how and why President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. All effort was made to return the country to normal. There was to be a “new” normal.

On Oct. 2,1963, Kennedy had issued National Security Memorandum 263, effectively ending U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The day after Kennedy’s funeral, Johnson reversed that order It is also a matter of record that Johnson then told the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Help me get re-elected and you can have your war.”

You read none of this in your high school textbook. By design the assassination is barely mentioned, except for naming Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin. The Texas School Book Depository, where he was employed, properly bears a plaque describing him only as “the accused.”

Oswald was prevented from going to trial when Mafia figure Jack Ruby walked into the jail, shot and killed him. Passion might have reigned but, had he been brought to trial, evidence to convict Oswald of murdering the president was tangled.

The conspirators were in charge. They had designed a motorcade route that would slow the targeted car. At Parkland Hospital their agents physically pushed aside the doctor required, under Texas law, to perform an autopsy to determine cause of death. At Bethesda Naval Hospital the wounds were altered.

What hadn’t been anticipated was the presence of a man well positioned with an 8 mm camera who would record the assassination as it happened. Images clearly demonstrate the fatal shot came from the front, not the rear where Oswald was accused of being. The conspirators dealt with this by not allowing the film to be publicly seen until seven years later. Bone, authenticated to be the missing portion of the back of Kennedy’s skull was found the following day at the site.

Hearing shots fired, Dallas motorcycle patrolman M.L. Baker left his vehicle and ran into the book depository building, a distance of perhaps 30 feet. His affidavit records in the second floor lunchroom he encountered Oswald, seated drinking a Coke — this but a few minutes after the shots were heard and later supposed to have emanated from a sixth-floor window. Employees interviewed stated they had met no one coming down the stairs.

Oswald is presumed to have brought his inaccurate Italian Army rifle to the Depository. At 1:15, it was found hidden between boxes.

Knowing no more than that shots had been fired at the motorcade, Oswald left work, taking a bus to his rooming house. He pocketed his pistol and set off walking directly toward the lodgings of Jack Ruby.

Kennedy was shot at 12:30 PM. Unaccountably, Dallas police broadcast an accurate description of Oswald just 15 minutes later. Officer Tippett stopped Oswald and was killed. Nearing Ruby’s residence, Oswald panicked. He ran into a movie house without buying a ticket. The attendant notified police, who swarmed the theater and arrested Oswald.

Initially he was charged with killing Tippet. There were many hours of interrogation, during which no record was kept.

It is important to note in passing, earlier that November a plot was discovered to shoot Kennedy from tall buildings during a Chicago visit. Thomas Arthur Vallee was set up to be accused of the murder. Ex-marine Vallee had served in the same unit as Oswald in Japan. Kennedy canceled the trip.

On Jan. 17, 1961, dressed to attend an affair, President-elect Kennedy tarried by a TV listening to President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address. Famously, it warned a military-industrial complex threatened our nation.Of necessity in 1960, JFK had campaigned as a “cold warrior,” but when the CIA’s Bay of Pigs plot to remove Castro occurred three months into his term, he refused to support it, instead firing Director Allen Dulles. His response to the Cuban Missile Crisis led to dialogue with Khrushchev to end the Cold War and rid the world of nuclear weapons. Kennedy made enemies of his Joint Chiefs of Staff and those who profit from war. Challenged by Quakers he had invited into the White House in May 1962, Kennedy replied, “You believe in redemption, don’t you.”

Charlemont resident Carl Doerner is an author and historian currently at work on a re-examination of and challenge to the “American narrative.”


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