Today marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and even though I was born more than two decades after the incident, the event itself still resonates with me.
I know that even though I didn’t live through it, something about it still captures me about it. it isn’t just the incident itself, but the aftermath of it and how it still affects us today.
Am I a conspiracy theorists that thinks Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone? Was it an inside job? Did the driver shoot JFK? I don’t know. And that adds on to the fascination with me.
I first took notice of this when I was a kid flipping channels. I can’t remember what year it was, but the movie “JFK” was being shown on TV and I caught the last part of it. In that scene, lawyer Jim Garrison is trying to so hard to convince everyone that what everyone believed to be Oswald as the lone gunman was false.
Since then, I started to wonder about it. I had only known about the killing and accepted that Oswald did it. But now with a potential conspiracy theory looming, I wanted to know more.
As a kid, the first band I listened to were The Beatles. That influence allowed me to really get into what happened along in the 1960s. I was a hippie at heart and so anything that happened in that decade captured my attention.
I had bedded my super interest in JFK. Even though any kind of “Magic Bullet Theory” kind of shows would come on and I’d watch it, I would just be convinced that Oswald did it alone and that was that.
Of course something so simple for such a complicated case can’t be real, right?
My interest resurfaced during my years in college when my professor said that people my generation will remember where they were and what they were doing when they 9/11 happened. He said that for people his generation, JFK’s assassination was that momentous life-changing moment.
Having just known the surface level information of the assassination, I decided that I wanted to know more. But how? This would lead to me getting on YouTube and just watching all the possible theories that came with it. I re-watched the grainy Zapruder film over and over, trying to figure out what happened.
However, my knowledge still of everything before the killing was very limited. All I knew was the aftermath of it, including the 1969 moon landing that I think was staged to fulfill a promise that JFK made before his death. (Yeah, that’s another fun conspiracy theory that I might discuss later.)
When I moved to Los Angeles to work for the NFL Network, my desire to know more took a major spike when I discovered that Stephen King wrote a novel about a man who travels back in time to stop the assassination. It was a great novel about the hypothetical of a world if Kennedy was never killed.
Then it snowballed from there. I would attend a play about the possible conspiracy theories out there and was floored about the “second gunman” ideas. But it didn’t stop there. I would meet with a fellow Twitter follower who happened to be in the same area and we talked about JFK (among other things) and he even let me borrow his DVDs of the original NBC broadcast of the news coverage of the assassination. I would read Bill O’Reilly’s book about JFK to get a better understanding of a man that was such a mystery to me.
After all, he was a handsome president that spoke to and inspired a generation. He had a gorgeous wife that women admired. He was in the heart of the 60s movement, yet there was so much that hinged on his every move that I kind of felt that might have been too overwhelming for him. And because of that, some people didn’t like him and maybe that’s why maybe somebody wanted to kill him.
To this day, I still don’t know what happened that day and I am still curious.
The assassination changed America in so many ways. Not only was the country in the middle of conflicts with other nations, but it changed the fabric of the livelihood of the people in America. We wondered if we were ever going to safe. The resulting aftermath changed this country forever.
I can’t say that I am an expert because I am not. I am still learning as much as I can of a day that changed this country forever.
Now 50 years later, we still don’t know exactly what happened. But we have seen what has happened since then. We can joke about a few things and we can also be serious about a few things.
But maybe not knowing the real truth behind it is what I would prefer. The mystery behind it fascinates me. The story before, during and after the killing is something I can’t turn away from. And given that I never actually lived through the whole ordeal, it’s that much more mysterious to me.
Have we moved on from? Sure we have. Life goes on. But for every American that lived through it, they will never forget it and they sure know that that moment changed their lives forever.
“The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask ‘why not?'”
Rest in peace, Jack. Thank you for inspiring us to dream.