It’s been 50 years since the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Still, for Dr. Werner Spitz, nothing has changed about that day or the autopsy evidence he reviewed years later for the Rockefeller Commission and House Select Committee on Assassinations. On the day JFK was slain, Spitz was a passenger on a ship headed from Germany to New York City along with his young wife and child. Also in tow, carrying all of their worldly possessions, were 13 wooden crates. As with many of the passengers on the ship, the prospect of living in America had Spitz feeling excited and hopeful. That was until the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963. -
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James L. Swanson, New York Times Best-Selling author of “End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy,” is a non-believer when it comes to the numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the murder of the 35th President of the United States in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
However, he did study them.
“Since so many people were interested in these conspiracy theories, I had to make myself accurate in them before I published this book. I’ve read hundreds of conspiracy books. I have bookshelves groaning with several hundred conspiracy books. I looked at them all because I wanted to be ready to discuss them, even though that’s not what my book is about,” explained Swanson, of Washington, D.C.
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By Brian Rogers
AARP asked for memories of the Kennedy assassination for posting on their Web site and this is what resulted:
When Donna Navin returned to her classroom at Evans School in Melvindale, Michigan, one autumn Friday afternoon, the look on her face told me something was troubling her.
I was the school’s music teacher and had just spent 20 minutes in her room with her second graders while she took a break in the Teacher’s Lounge. I’d played the piano and led them singing “Bingo,” “Come Play Train,” “Skip to My Lou,” and other songs they enjoyed.
“Somebody just shot at the President’s motorcade in Dallas, Texas,” she told me clutching an armload of papers she had just graded. A school bus driver had heard the news on the radio, she said, but he didn’t know if anyone had been hit.
I taught my remaining classes that day hoping I’d walk into the house after school and learn that no one in the President’s party had been hurt, but you know that isn’t the way it was.
Instead, newscaster Walter Cronkite was on our big living room Motorola black and white TV somberly telling us that John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States was dead.
To those of us who attended college in the 1950s and began working and raising our families in the ‘60s, John Kennedy was more than our President. He was our hero, our champion, the spokesman for what people called “The New Frontier.”
At 43, he had been the youngest man ever elected President of the United States and the first President born in the 20th Century. His wife, Jackie, was beautiful, and his kids were about the same age as ours.
Only that August we had worried with him and later mourned when a son, Patrick, had been born prematurely and two days later died.
In his inaugural address, Kennedy had said that “a new generation of Americans” had taken leadership of the country, and we were sure we were part of that generation.
Another quote from the speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” still rang loudly in our ears.
But, concluded the Warren Commission, at 12:30 p.m., Central Time, on Friday, November 22, 1963, a bullet from a rifle held by a man named Lee Harvey Oswald in the Texas School Depository Building, suddenly snuffed out our young President’s life.
The numbing hollow emptiness and gnawing sense of monumental loss we felt that weekend gradually faded, although I’m reminded of it every time I see the famous photograph of Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy’s Vice-President, repeating the Presidential Oath of Office, a stunned and bewildered Jackie Kennedy by his side.
The picture was taken aboard the President’s airplane less than two hours after Kennedy had been pronounced dead.
On the assassination’s 25th Anniversary, in 1988, the clock radio woke me with a recording of Walter Cronkite’s announcement from a quarter century before, and I had to knuckle tears out of my eyes before I had breakfast.
Americans have a way of pulling themselves together and getting on with their lives after a national tragedy and we have done that, as we had to after 9/11; but that empty ache that began in me that Friday afternoon half a century ago has never completely left.
I doubt if it ever will.
From: Brian Rogers, Dearborn, Michigan, age 76
What is it about John Fitzgerald Kennedy that makes old-time pols and pundits and even average Americans become teary-eyed, 50 years later, at the memory of his tragic death on “that dark day in Dallas?” After a half century, people still ask each other: Where were you? What do you remember about the moment when you heard the news? For anyone over about 55 years of age, the answer comes forth quickly, in detail.