Some suggest President John F. Kennedy’s murder in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 was the day America lost its innocence. Because of so many public tragedies throughout the history of any country, others find this a largely rhetorical argument.
Yet given the magnitude of such an historic event, it remains an interesting point to consider. After all, less than five years after President Kennedy’s death, the United States was entangled in Vietnam, then suffered the leadership loss of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
President John F. Kennedy arrives in Dallas on November 22, 1963
Americans have endured a host of painful events on a large scale. Examples from the past century include World War I, the Great Depression and World War II. With the official Warren Commission report singling out American Lee Harvey Oswald as the president’s killer, it can be argued that what makes the JFK assassination so painful is that the murder of our own president was allegedly carried out by a fellow American, seen by some as our own collective hand. While on a different scale, perhaps a better comparison of this effect is the Civil War, where Americans were done in by their own countrymen.
Oswald was an American military veteran, but a brief peek into his life shows signs of an atypical US citizen. Eventually, unAmerican elements were implicated in the assassination of President Kennedy, including the Soviet Union, Cubans, and the Mafia. But consider plenty of oft-suggested scenarios, such as the thought President Kennedy may have been killed by rogue elements within the US government. As a result, Americans grew conflicted and lost trust in their institutions. Reinforcing this view are polls showing a majority of Americans continue to believe President Kennedy was killed as part of a conspiracy.
Alleged JFK Assassin Lee Harvey Oswald
It’s not easy to walk away from the promises of Camelot. The perception of self-immolation presents a reality difficult to imagine and even more difficult to watch, particularly given the grisly images of Abraham Zapruder’s color home movie showing the death of our president. As we approach 49 years since the JFK assassination, take time to reflect on President Kennedy, how he lived and even how he died. But also consider how the passing of this American president still affects the way we view ourselves today, now nearly half a century later.