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When We Were Innocent

When President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, along with Governor John Connolly of Texas, on November 22, 1963, the news spread out on the nation and world like a shock wave. It was a national experience like never before. Other presidents had been assassinated, but that was in the days before the media could spread news at a lightning pace. It was only about an hour after the initial flash from Dallas that the followup report of Kennedy's death sent out another shockwave. The initial moments of the assassination weekend would have a profound effect on how the official version of it would be sold to the public in the following months. The ripple effects of the initial shock are still with us today!

I was 12 years old at the time and my sense of reality was certainly tested that dark November weekend. I was in the midst of a 7th grade biology exam when someone walked into the classroom with a message for our teacher, Mr. Summers. This in itself was not unusual as bulletins were always circulated by courier from room to room. However, I did notice a look of concern on the face of the courier, Mr. Nobles, when he handed the message to Summers. Summers asked for our attention and I will never forget those words: "I have a news flash from the Associated Press . . . President Kennedy, Vice President Johnson and Governor John Connolly of Texas have been shot in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas." As he read the message he put extra emphasis on the word "shot", probably to jar his own senses that he wasn't imagining all of this. Ironically, as he started reading the message the first thing that flashed through my mind was some momentous accord that has taken place between the United States and one of her "arch enemies".

The flash announcement went on but I can't remember the rest of the words: I was stunned. There was a little more about the the possibilty of mortal wounds or something in that light. An hour later, in math class, Mrs. Lampe cried after she read the followup report on Kennedy's death. Of course, the initial shock was even greater with the Vice President having been included as a victim, but we found out shortly that this was an erroneous announcement. Where it came from I will never know!

Everyone seemed to be in a daze the rest of the day at school. It was like someone had turned off a light somewhere! I remember going to bed on that Friday evening, November 22, terrified at the prospect of suspect Lee Harvey Oswald pointing a rifle at me from some building. I had watched television since I had gotten off the school bus around 2PM, so I was being a witness to history like so many others.

The images will always be with me: Jackie's blood-stained dress, the arrival of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base carrying the new president and the casket, the unloading of the casket from the plane, LBJ's short but eloquent statement with Lady Bird by his side after disembarking from AF One, the arrival of the casket at Bethesda Naval Hospital for the autopsy and the intermittent reports from a crowded Dallas police headquarters concerning the prime suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald. After 6-7 hours of watching television coverage, I had actually been left with this feeling of terror about Oswald! I am sure that the rest of the country had the same feelings: how could someone do something so diabolical ?

Of course, in 1963 people generally weren't aware of the enormous amount of enemies that JFK had collected in his 1000 some-odd days of office. The national perception of Kennedy was that he was a popular president in the prime of his life, with a beautiful wife and two young children. There was a strong identity link between JFK and most people, not to mention Kennedy's lean toward social movements that had endeared him to many more. The general population saw JFK in positive terms, not in terms of his bitter enemies.

This was why it was so easy for the lone-nut, Oswald-did-it, version to be pasted on the public's mind on that November 22 evening. If it was generally known or acknowledged that JFK did have many bitter and dangerous enemies, a little more doubt might have seeped into the coverage that eminated from Dallas that evening.

It is not that people were stupid or naive to accept the lone gunman scenario from the beginning. First of all, television was still in its infant stage: people trusted what they heard and saw. Secondly, since people generally only saw the sunny side of the Kennedy administration and not the darker enemies side, they had no input to cause any suspicions about conspiracy. Third, this was the first assassination covered by television and the effects of the sudden import of extraordinary trajedy left people in a state of shock. Certainly, when people are in a state of shock or hysteria, they are much more open to suggestion. The information that poured out of Dallas that Friday evening was being received by an audience very open-minded and hungry for news! People had to have some rationale for such a gruesome act.

That rationale was provided to us in the form of Oswald, a 24 year old man who was instantly portrayed in a diabolical light by the media. I remember watching as they led Oswald from one room to another, reporters crowding in to ask questions. By Friday evening I was convinced Oswald had blown away Kennedy and horrified by the very thought of meeting him! He had to be so diabolical to have committed such an atrociously historical act as blowing out Kennedy's brains in the middle of a motorcade route with the First Lady seated right next to her husband! The First Lady's public display of her bloodstained dress right up to her entrance into Bethesda Naval Hospital undoubtedly reminded the nation of the gruesomeness of the murder. This atrocity was on my mind as I went to bed and that was why I was terrified by the thought of Oswald pointing a rifle at me.

I remember the midnight press conference in the Dallas police basement where someone asked Oswald point blank if he had shot the president. By this time, anything he would have uttered would have been prejudiced by the media coverage up to that point. Sure enough, when Oswald denied the shooting, I naturally saw it as a lie, a less-than-truthful defense of himself. I figured anyone who had been detained and accused of murdering a policeman(JD Tippit) and suspected of shooting the president would certainly take the opportunity on national television to make the most of his chance at denial. Oswald's answer was very contrived, as I remember my initial impression of it. When he added that no one yet had accused him of the JFK murder and that he had first heard about it from reporters "in the hallway", it just seemed like more contrivance to this 12 year old.

Also, looking back, I think Oswald's dishevelled unkempt appearance(not his fault) added to the mystique of terror that was building about him. He still had on his work clothes, had been hit in the eye by a policeman during the arrest , leaving a blackened eye, and just generally appeared suspicious and criminal to me. His low-key mannerisms when we did get a view of him only seemed to add to the suspicions of a subversive-type individual. Of course, he had undergone continuous interrogation since his arrest: undoubtedly he was physically and emotionally drained, not to mention terrified of his situation. He had not been allowed to confer with an attorney(he never would).

On our way home from church services on Sunday(where, of course, the sermon had been about dealing with the assassination on a personal basis), my family made our regular stop at a small market. This market always had a television going in the corner of the store. The minute we entered the store all eyes were on us with the news "Someone just shot Oswald." I had just missed being witness to still another bizarre turn in history, by only minutes. I never harbored any ill feelings toward Oswald so I felt bad that someone had shot him. I was only appalled by the murder.

Once again, the general unawareness of Kennedy's enemies made it easy for people to accept Oswald's assailant, Jack Ruby, as some distraught nightclub owner pushed over the edge by grief to take vengeance. In fact, a lot of people undoubtedly identified with Ruby's act. People just didn't have the background information on him at that time that would have opened up new doors of curiosity about the assassination from the very beginning. I remember watching the coverage later that day when a TV reporter on some Dallas street asked people their reactions to Oswald's murder. Most of them had an "he had it coming" attitude. A film clip of this group of people cheering when news of Oswald's demise was announced was replayed before the interviews.

Even more sad when I look back was my reaction when my mother said someone being interviewed by that reporter looked suspicious because he gave no immediate clear answer as to why he was in Dallas after he had stated that he wasn't from the city. It was just assumed that all of the people in that street crowd were from Dallas. I told my mom that she was being unduly suspicious in a most impatient manner: the case was open and shut as far as I was concerned!

In the following years the topic of JFK's assassination drifted away from my orbit as I busied myself with studies, personal life and work on our family farm. However, the initial shock of the atrociousness of the act stuck with me and caused me many sleepless hours. It was like I knew there was a nightmare waiting to happen and I wanted to avoid it at all costs. There was something very diabolical about the whole episode that continued to gnaw away at me. The superhisoricality of the JFK assassination overwhelmed me and at times I actually felt I sensed the spirits of Oswald and Kennedy , almost as if they were trying to communicate to add some truth to the whole mess! This may sound bizarre, but it WAS my perception, and I remained terrified of that terrible moment of the assassination.

Not until 1988 did I start a serious study of the assassination. Somehow, I had missed the investigations and books of the 70's pertaining to the assassination. I never was much of a book reader until I picked up a copy of "High Treason" by Robert Groden and Harrison Livingstone. My interest in the assassination, stemming from my initial horror of the act and lying dormant inside me all those years, was suddenly released. I was aware that there were serious questions about Oswald's guilt even before I read "High Treason," but after reading the book I seriously doubted that he had even taken a shot that day!

As I continued to collect and read books about the case I was taken back to 1963 with the images of Dealey Plaza, the motorcycle cops, people running up the grassy knoll, Jackie climbing on the hood of the limousine, the witnesses lining the route as the motorcade went by, Oswald being detained and herded around the police station, the crowd at Parkland hospital and John-John saluting his dead father. As I devoured assassination material my inner terror subsided concerning Oswald and was replaced by a strong sympathy for his family. I couln't imagine someone in my family being branded as the assassin of a president! I thought about how the media had made his mother look like some lunatic, standing behind her son in the face of obvious guilt. I thought it only natural for a bereaved mother to do this, but my long-standing perception of Marguerite Oswald had been one of a woman who didn't quite have all her marbles in place.

There are many people like me who have accessed the literature delving into the truth behind JFK's assassination. I have read that 90-100% of Americans believe there was a conspiracy. Having studied the case, I can't see how one can come to any other conclusion. I don't think that many have really seriously studied the facts, taking their cue instead from friends or some other superficial source of information. The percentage of people who are quite knowledgable about the assassination in terms of the official investigations and their critics' writings is much lower, probably in the 20-30% range. I honestly feel that if 90-100% were very knowledgable about this case it would have been forced open years ago!

There are nothing but loose ends in the official version that the mainstream media has backed all these years. All three major television networks continue to support the Warren Commission and thwart any serious attempt to get to the truth. I don't think the reason for this is to protect the national psyche. This is a crock as much as protecting the national security is. The news agencies of this great nation, whose job is technically to inform the population, have become effective propoganda tools for the powerful. Anything supportive of the official line on this crime, even in the most obscure way, gets national airplay. Anything that casts doubt on the official version is thrown into the mass media wastebasket, even when it carries a reliable tag on it. It continues to be a whitewash of major proportions.

How long can the media hold on like this? Which major network will be the first to take a stance of truthfullness and help attempt to break the mystery gridlock? When will the price tag of truth be ripped off?

Reputations are at stake in all this. The people who orchestrated the assassination had ties to government, business and military. The powers that had a hand in JFK's murder have always operated behind closed doors, and the inheritors of this power want the truth to remain behind closed doors. What happens when a major scandal is exposed? Just remember what happened to the Nixon Administration when Watergate slowly unfolded: the cards started falling one by one! Nixon became expendable, thus his resignation. Apparently, someone(some people?) somewhere very powerful thinks he is not expendable and has continued to impress this feeling on the institutions that guide America. It is only a matter of one's opinion as to what things in our society are considered not expendable by the establishment that may lead one down the paths of suspicion.

Some of the people who don't want to accept the conspiracy angle are turned off by the thought of government complicity in the killing. I believe this angle has always hurt the researcher's case. People want to believe in their government. I also feel that no one with any substantial background in assassination studies has ever accused the government of killing Kennedy. We, the people, are the government! We, the people, the government, are being left in the dark about all this! If an FBI agent kills his wife and her lover, did the government kill them? Of course not. If a CIA agent gets caught transporting drugs somewhere, is it the government doing it.? No. It is a rogue element within a government agency, not the government.

This is the distinction that must be made to those people who remain stubborn and blind to the mass of facts that make the Warren Commission a fairy tale. The government is not being accused of Kennedy's murder and never really has. Rogue elements within and around the government are. Do the conspiracy non-believers think that abuse of power is also a non reality? Abuse of government power is in the news in one form or another everyday and has been for as long as I can remember. It is a part of just about every episode of recorded history. Why is it so hard for some people to accept the mere possibility of this type of abuse in the Kennedy assassination?

Without key players in high places, the deepest damaging secrets of JFK's murder would not have been kept locked away from the public all these years.

Without key players, a thorough and trully objective investigation into Kennedy's murder could not have been forestalled and whitewashed.

Without key players, we, the people, the government by constitutional decree, would have known the truth hours after the shots quit echoing in Dealey Plaza.

Without key players, then, it only follows that this murder would have never taken place. All of the bases had to be covered.

Herein lies the key to understanding the conspiratorial nature of this case. The truth and facts behind the assassination were never meant to be made public by those powerful enough to quell them, those who had direct and indirect participation in the conspiracy itself. We have been left to conjecture about much of what happened, piecing together what tidbits of factual knowledge and logic we have been able to scrape up all these years.

The modus operandi of this immense crime has become common knowledge among Kennedy researchers, or at least rejection of the lone-nut theory. The immense whitewash by the government and media the past 34 years will scar our national psyche for years to come. When you can't trust the agents of government, people lose faith in their government and doubt becomes a fashion, not a reasonable democratic safeguard. A trully democratic government depends on accountability: it is a government of, by and for the people. Until there is an honest official attempt made to expose the real facts and prosecute any remaining conspirators in this case, this government and all its agencies remain unaccountable to its constituents!

For anyone just beginning a study of the Kennedy assassination, I feel it is important to know the not just the facts of this case but some of the history prior to it. This murder was an historical event, not some random lone nut murder. After World War II the politics of the United States became progressively fearful of the Communist menace as represented by the Soviet Union. Republican and Democratic political strategies could not ignore the red scare issue, and it became a cancer that clouded the national psyche. One only has to read about Senator Joe McCarthy to get a feel for this post-WW II idealogical persecution period. John Kennedy was trying to break through this cloud of distrust when he was murdered. Unfortunately for JFK's social/political agenda, this "cloud" was very profitable to the global military/industrial complex. Knowing the history up to the murder gives one a greater perspective on the forces that Kennedy was dealing with during his administration.

In many dark corners of America in 1963 lurked individuals and groups that had a score to settle with the Kennedy Administration. One doesn't have to look very far to find suspects in the assassination based on motive alone. Every president has his blood enemies and Kennedy certainly had more than his share. America was just embarking on some major social changes beginning the 1960's, changes that would cause immense social growing pains in the years to come. JFK, as occupier of the most powerful office in the world, tried to fill the void of peacemaker between major warring idelogical factions. Basically it was a battle of the factions that wanted things kept as they were and those who saw greater possibilities embodied in the American spirit. Kennedy's mediative role in this vastly volatile setting put him in a dangerous caught-between position.

In these articles I will not dredge up the tremendous amount of details that have led me to believe the way I do about this case. I will list my sources of information, however. I am not making up a story here. My perspective is based on the information that I have accessed all these years that I feel is reliable and believable. It is up to you, the individual, to access literature that deals with it so that you can see for yourself. There is so much literarature on the JFK assassination that one can get lost in the fine details of the case and lose sight of the overall picture. But I feel that one must digest as much information as possible about any topic to solidfiy their over-all view of it. People must keep an open mind to ward off the tenedencies of prejudgment that always impede the search for truth.