Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Kennedy Assassination Mystique

Two score and five years ago, our country went through the worst kind of gut wrenching and soul searching that could be thrust upon any nation. I was just nine years old, but it was easy to comprehend the gravity of the mood of the people on that horrible weekend. Our president was dead and the person who police said did it was from New Orleans. Oh my goodness. I recall the time in my family was somewhat uneasy. My parents had enrolled me in public school for the first time earlier that summer. Coming from a military academy, Rugby Academy, I was finding the experience a bit trying for me, but I was showing good academic prowess in an environment which no longer emphasized uniforms or marching (yeah!). Then, on that fateful day I recall my teacher being very solemn after lunch. It was then that our principal announced over the loudspeaker that President Kennedy was dead and that we were all dismissed from class for the remainder of the day. Immediately I was concerned about how I was going to be going home with my sister, because my housekeeper Victoria was supposed to pick us up and walk us home at 3:00 o'clock. That was at least an hour and a half away. Unlike today, when time seems to breeze by, an hour and a half back them seemed like an interminable period of time. I seem to recall that we did meet up with Victoria, but I can't say for sure at what time. The next few days were a blur of historical figures and events. A Time-Life book I had in my library, "Four Days" documented it all. Unfortunately, like most of my library, it was lost in the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina. I do vividly recall watching the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald over a live CBS feed on Sunday, November 24. The black and white imagery of the RCA television set is engrained upon my mind. Jack Ruby's attack on Oswald seemed to happen in slow motion, even though it was over with in less than three seconds. How ironic that Oswald died at the very same hospital as Kennedy within one or two rooms of one another. While the conspiratorial theorists may never be satisified, the evidence of Oswald's role as a lone assassin seems to bear more and more validity as the years drag on. Whether it will be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt also seems unlikely. Former New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison was sure he had the evidence to link Oswald to others who had better motives, but as we know, he was never able to prove his suspicions in a court of law. Whether we think that it was Castro, the Cosa Nostra, or agents of the military industrial complex, the fact is nobody can ever state categorically they know the answer to this question. The main thing for all of us Americans to remember is that it should never happen again. It almost did in 1981 with Ronald Reagan. Thanks to Providence and a staff of "Republican" doctors, as Reagan joked in the ER, his life was spared, but it could just as easily have been a tragedy had the bullet trajectory moved just a little to either side. Two times before that it was Gerald Ford who surivived two different attacks within weeks of one another in September of 1975; the first by Manson desciple Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and 17 days later the second by Sara Jane Moore, who I am reluctant to admit was born Sara Jane Kahn, a Jewish housewife married five times with four children. In case you didn't hear, she was paroled last December, a year and a few days after Gerald Ford passed away from natural causes. Another Jew, Samuel Byck, also attempted to kill a sitting president in 1974, I am sorry to report. The half-hearted attempt involved hijacking a bus and crashing it into the White House in an effort to kill Richard Milhous Nixon, the 37th President of the United States. While I was never a fan of Nixon's politics, I would never condone such a lame-brained scheme (as were all of these latter-day attempts). Yet, the one defining moment for me, when the country lost its innocence was when J.F.K. died. The later assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy also had pronounced effects on me, but they were defined best as auxillary to the assassination of our youngest elected president. There was a numbness that overcame the nation on November 22, 1963 and I am not certain it has ever fully lifted, now 45 years later.


gspieler said...

Let me correct some facts in your article. Apparently there is a lot of misinformation "out there" and I'd be interested in knowing where you found it?

Sara Jane Kahn and the "Kahn" family were not Jewish. I know this on first hand authority as I've interviewed the Kahn clan for my book.

Olaf Kahn, Sara Jane's father, was from Germany, and the family went to the Southern Baptist Church in Charleston, West Virgnia.

Sara Jane pulled a hoax when she was in prison in Pleasanton, California or the Dublin FCI. She made up a tall tale about her grandparents being Orthodox Jews. Not true. Ask her brother.

She convinced the visiting Rabbi, Rabbi Book, to do a patrilinial conversion. This was to get a Kosher Kitchen in the prison. But, Sara Jane Kahn was not Jewish and no one in her family is or was ever Jewish.

Second, although Squeaky Fromme did have a gun, she never pointed it at Ford and there was no bullet in the chamber.She waved it around to get arrestd so she could give Charles Manson an opportunity to get publicity. She had no intention of shooting Ford. That doesn't excuse her actions and certainly any perceived threat must be taken seriously by the the Secret Service. But now that we know the truth, we must report the facts.

Geri Spieler, author of "Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman who shot at Gerald Ford."

Arlene said...

It's interesting the things young children remember. The day JFK was shot, my close friend returned to school after lunch. She was extremely out of sorts! I recall trying to calm her down and comfort her to the best of an eight year olds ability. I inquired to my friend asking why she was so upset and crying. She immediately explained that President Kennedy was shot and killed. At eight, I did not understand my friend's personal connection nor the global significance of JFK's death. I had my arm around her, but frankly couldn't understand her personal grief. As she kept crying, I continued to comfort her. I looked at her with a straight face and said how sorry I was about "her" loss. My next comment to her was so innocent and typical of a sixties clueless child. I inquired, "So please explain to me, just how are you related to the Kennedy family?" True story! IT was one of many "blond moments" in my life!