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Youtube is an interesting part of life in the 21st century because it connects us to the world in an unusual manner. We can see the best of times and the worst of times through there as it makes future stars out of nobodies (see early Justin Bieber video) and dogs (see any goofy mutt video). People will relinquish any loose grip they may have on their dignity in an embarrassing effort to become stars, but sometimes stardom is simply a taped pratfall or misstep away from Youtube viral fame. . .

The Youtube adventure has reconnected me with my own kid TV roots because I can watch ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ and ‘Get Smart’ any time the spirit moves me. I saw a 1956 TV game show sequence that had a 96 year old man who witnessed the Lincoln assassination as a 5-year-old. The old guy misunderstood the events in the theater as a youngster and was concerned with John Wilkes Booth’s health when he hit the stage hard following his leap to escape capture after the shooting.

But somebody recently steered me toward another historical presidential assassination account on Youtube. This one has all-too-familiar photographic evidence – with heavy emphasis on the “graphic” aspect. The famous Zapruder film was digitally enhanced and displays the Kennedy assassination in painfully clear detail.

I am old enough to remember this very dark moment in history as a kid in grade school. The news came to us in the school gym announced by our principal and followed by silence and a prayer for the late president from a bunch of kids in a small Canadian city.

Over the years the Kennedy assassination has ignited much conjecture and debate about the circumstances that surrounded the shooting. Conspiracy theorists can still get tangled up in various hypotheses on the person or persons behind the plot.

Personally I believe that Oswald was a lone gunman. How or why he arrived at his infamous connection to this case is best left to the conspiracy hobbyists. But most experts believe that his rifle shots killed President Kennedy and you will get little argument from me, particularly after I saw the digitally enhanced Zapruder footage.

The experts believe that the Italian Carcano bolt action rifle was used by Oswald for his date with destiny. The rounds were 160 grain round-nosed bullets and they were designed to inflict as much damage as possible upon their intended target. The devastation caused by a bullet built to force its way into a target was graphically evident in the film sequence. The second round that hit Kennedy was a gruesome reminder of the sheer blunt force of the impact. It is ugly to watch and it’s a reminder of the sheer power of a firearm.

Most of the historical footage of the President shows a vibrant living human being whose legacy in American history includes a showdown with the Soviets in Cuba and a call to put a man on the moon before 1970. All of that life and vitality is lost in a heartbeat by a madman with a rifle. It’s a horrific part of history that can be found very easily in the files of Youtube, but I am not sure that I needed to witness this incredibly sad piece of American history.

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  1. I have the same problem. Plus the previously mentioned issues (in other threads) with Shockwave on this site causing my browser (Chrome) to crash about 20% of the time.

  2. Jim,

    A very poignant piece, thank you. I agree that the video is a stark and graphic record.

    I, like you, have vivid memories of that day, and also of a day not five years later when JFK’s brother Bobby was killed. (In June of 1968, just two months after MLK was assassinated by another madman with a rifle.) In RFK’s case, it was a madman with an 8-shot Iver-Johnson .22 caliber revolver. For worse or better, bullets can change the course of history. I for one am glad I’ve lived long enough after the 1960s-1980s to see fewer assassinations and assassination attempts in this country.

  3. Everyone who was around at the time of the JFK assassination remembers where they were when they heard the news. I was in high school. I remember telling a friend that the country was now leaderless. He told me not to worry, because Lyndon Johnson would do a good job. My friend could not have been more wrong.

    I wonder occasionally how our national history would have progressed had JFK not been assassinated. I think that it would be a better country today, but that’s just a guess.

      • Nor was anyone with a brain.

        I recently read an alternate history fiction book called “Castro’s Bomb” by Robert Conroy. In the story Cuba ire takes Gauntanamo Bay by force as revenge for the Bay of Pigs. Anyways, to make a long story short, LBJ is assassinated instead of JFK. I read that and thought that it was too bad it didn’t turn out that way.

        “We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

        Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

        This much we pledge—and more.

        To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do—for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

        To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

        To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

        • Yeah, that’s what he said in public. In private, he told one of his mistresses that he’d rather see his children Red than dead.

          Still, he left us with Lyndon Johnson. It wasn’t until LBJ started screwing up the country that we knew exactly what we’d lost.


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