The day America lost its innocence
Published: Thursday, November 21st, 2013
There isn't any American today who was around on that awful Nov. 22, 1963, day who can't remember exactly what they were doing or where they were when news reached them that President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed by an assassin or assassins.
We remember we were in a senior class math class when intercom loudspeakers in every classroom of Rhinelander (Wis.) Union High School crackled with a live network newscast talking about the popular Democratic president being shot in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. We sat in stunned silence listening to the unbelievable news reports detailing the events leading up to the shooting. About a half an hour later it was announced that the president had been declared dead at a Dallas hospital.
Like other shocked Americans, we went through the motions of finishing up that day and couldn't wait to get home to watch and listen to network newscasters who tried to sum up as best they could the events of that tragic day. We tuned in to the CBS news with trusted veteran anchorman Walter Cronkite who was so overcome with emotion that at one point he had to stop, take off his glasses and wipe his eyes. We cried along with him. The normally business-like and stoic Cronkite was as distraught as all of us and couldn't help but be caught up in the fact that our young and popular “Camelot” president had been gunned down in the prime of his life and killed in such a public venue.
After all, assassinations like this normally occur in what we refer to as Third World countries, not the United States of America. I remember our high school civics class teacher at the time offered his opinion that the shooting was a conspiracy, meaning that more than one person was involved. Many continue to believe in some kind of conspiracy theory today, thinking that no one man, acting alone, could have carried out such a dastardly deed with a mail order bolt action rifle.
Most people also believe that the Warren Commission convened a few years after the death of Kennedy failed to investigate the shooting properly and raised more questions than it answered. Americans wanted concrete answers to the questions of who killed their president and why, and they failed to get them from this inept commission. We still question why some of the commission's findings were sealed for 50 years. Who were they trying to protect and why?
Most of all, it is disturbing to know that the Kennedy assassination was an inside job that was not carried out by another government or country. It certainly was not carried out by the likes of a Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone and of his own accord. It is generally accepted that Oswald was a patsy who had to be quickly eliminated by a character like nightclub owner Jack Ruby, who himself died a short time later, reportedly of cancer.
America lost its 20th century innocence with the death of President Kennedy. Many of us have had a distrust of our government ever since this tragic event. If there are powers in our own government who can remove a president by assassination, there can be no limit to what they will do to this country to achieve their own agenda. We can trace the present downward spiral of distrust in our government, and cynicism toward it, to this terrible shooting that occurred 50 years ago in Dallas.
Our country has never been the same since.
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