If you were alive on that day and old enough to understand what was happening, you will remember it with a clarity that attaches to very few of your other memories. I was a brand new soldier waiting for my second haircut in two days at the 4th Regimental barber shop at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, listening to the radio, which said that President Kennedy had been shot dead in Dallas. I have no recollection of my college graduation, which took place only a few months before, but I can remember that with startling clarity.
Even before Kennedy had been laid in his grave, the rumors started, and never stopped. The government said that the President had been shot by one Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, using one of the worst military rifles of all time. People did not believe the government in droves. Who could credit that a twisted geek, a loser who had failed at everything he had ever tried, could have killed King Jack and altered history?
And so we have shooters in the grove of trees, shooters in sewers, shooters on the overpass, and conspiracy theories beyond counting. There have been scores of recreations to see if Oswald could have done what he did. There have been official investigations, and reports. Most likely, it will never be laid to rest.
Years ago, the SHOT Show used to be held in Dallas, and I would sneak out to visit Dealey Plaza to see what I could see. And what I saw was something that I don’t think has ever been mentioned. Looking at the scene with the eye of a rifle shooter, I was struck by how little distance there is between the 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository and the spot where Kennedy’s limousine was when the shots were fired. It was so close that Oswald could have thrown the Carcano out the window and achieved the same result.
I once discussed the assassination with a crime reporter, and his take was this: If more than 40 years have passed, and not one shred of credible evidence to the contrary has emerged, then the story we got is what actually happened. So be it.
If you go to Dealey Plaza you can stand on the Grassy Knoll and look out at the highway leading from Dallas to the airport and see essentially the same thing that Jack Kennedy saw in his last few seconds on earth. And even if you are not an admirer of his (as I was not) you can’t help but think, “You poor son of a bitch.”