The assassination of John Kennedy

I have a faint memory of the feeling in my house when Walter Cronkite in his shirtsleeves interrupted our routines with news that broke adult hearts. It still seems impossible for us to believe that a man who by most accounts seemed rudderless and marginal could target the genteel American President, parading beside his glamorous wife, and end his life. We believe it must have been a conspiracy, with powerful foreign or domestic forces manipulating Oswald to their objective of assassination. There must have been elite or royal or sinister money behind the shooting: militaries, corporations, kings, despots, the mob. The idea that Oswald, a man blown here and there in search of solid ground, could take his rifle, find the polished American President in the crosshairs, and pull the trigger, turns our world upside down.  But we know from other recent examples of terrorist violence that emptiness, disenfranchisement, revolutionary ideologies, resentment and anger do not always protest, seethe and disappear quietly under the greater power of the establishment. Sometimes, in violent moments, one or more of these break through the walls of civil society and leave us stunned and searching, for years. 

One thought on “The assassination of John Kennedy

  1. How well I remember that terrible day! I was at home in Philadelphia, with our 5- month old daughter in her infant seat. I was ironing, and heard the news on the radio. I quickly turned on the TV, and remained transfixed the rest of that day, and all the days afterward, as our stunned nation attempted to grasp the events and grieve our loss. Who could remain stoic, seeing Walter Cronkite remove his glasses and with trembling voice and tears in his eyes, report to all of us that “President Mennedy has died.”? Individual political loyalties faded away during those following days of sad pageantry. We were one nation, shocked and mourning together, our complacency and innocence destroyed. It was indeed a day that changed our world forever. I believe that in all these 50 years since, only 9/11 came close to such dramatic and permanent impact on our way of life. Those two events are ones that most people can remember exactly where they were, and what they were doing, when they heard the news.


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