On November 24, 1963 the United States was recovering from the assassination of her 35th President, John F. Kennedy. Two days earlier he had been gunned down on Elm Street in Dallas as he rode in an open top limousine. A so-called sniper’s nest was located on the sixth floor of a building on the route. A man who was employed at the Texas School Book Depository had been arrested and subsequently charged as the lone gunman. Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24 year old ex-Marine who had been hired at the TSBD on October 16, 1963, less than two months before the assassination was arrested about ninety minutes after the assassination.
Two days after his arrest by the Dallas Police Department, after hours of questioning, after being paraded several times in front of the press he was charged with the shooting of both the president and a Dallas police officer. It was announced he would be transferred to the county jail. As Oswald was being led in handcuffs through the basement of the Dallas Police Department an armed gunman stepped from the crowd of reporters and policemen and shot the accused assassin at close range. Less than two hours later he died having never confessed to the crimes.
Jack Ruby, the man who shot Oswald, destroyed any chance the American public would know what involvement Oswald might have had in the assassination. Instead America watched a man executed on live television. There was no trial, no judge, and no jury; there was only a sentence carried out by a local strip club owner.
Did Lee Harvey Oswald fire the shot that killed our 35th President? Some say yes, others believe there was a conspiracy involving a variety of groups. The fact is unless someone comes forth with irrefutable evidence we will never know the truth. We have been deprived of what is commonly called “closure”. Our innocence was stolen by the assassin or assassins and Jack Ruby. The harsh reality of that dark day lingers over our history like a heavy cloud that will never release a cleansing rain. Instead the events are encapsulated in mourning cloth to be displayed on a yearly basis.
Yet in spite of the horrors of that very long weekend, the years that followed exposed us to more nightmares; the Viet Nam war, the killing of Senator Robert Kennedy who was campaigning for president, the Watergate break-in, attempted assassinations of presidents, the attacks of 9/11, and a multitude of school shootings, terrorist murders and bombings. If we had been living in a protective bubble between WW II and the Kennedy assassination it had burst and we are now naked in the face of living nightmares. We had survived the Korean Conflict, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban stand-off only to be felled by an assassin’s bullet. For after the murder of our President on the streets of an American city and the execution of an accused but not convicted assassin two days later our vulnerability was exposed.