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JFK: Be inspired to rediscover history
By Lisa Brainard
Monday, November 25, 2013 3:26 AM
Around 12:30 p.m. Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a sniper as he rode in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, seated next to his wife. TOM DILLARD/DALLAS MORNING NEWS/MCT
It seems to me it is best appreciated with age and discovered yourself. Perhaps you just have to live a little before you want to really learn about those who came before, or really delve into a niche interest.
For me, volunteer projects in Native American rock art led to the desire to know more about Indian Wars and westward pioneer expansion, as well as Buffalo Bill's area ties.
A trip to Zion National Park in Utah added the westward trek of Mormons and their history to the list. A non-planned drive to Rollins Pass in the Rockies near Winter Park, Colo., and a later Amtrak trip through the Moffat Tunnel on the ground side, added westward railroad expansion - and specifically David Moffat and his Moffat Road to the list.
Visiting Gettysburg in Pennsylvania and Andersonville Prison in Georgia, plus seeing the local Civil War re-enactment at Wasioja added the Civil War.
Seeing the movie "Dances with Wolves" and learning of the Dakota Conflict here in Minnesota led me further into the interesting transition period of post-Civil War to westward expansion to Indian Wars. That led to Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Little Bighorn, the Ghost Dance, Wounded Knee Massacre and the later Wounded Knee incident in the 1970s - and learning about the AIM (American Indian Movement) started due to the treatment of Indians in Minneapolis.
OK. As you can tell, apparently if I see something, I need to research and learn about it.
A few years ago I visited the new Minuteman Missile National Historic Site near the Badlands National Park turnoff on Interstate 90 in South Dakota. A friend and I had first spotted a missile silo site around 10 years ago, just off I-90 east of Wall and now part of the historic site. Of course we'd wandered right up to it, as it was part of a geocache. We needed to figure out which way the roof of the silo moved on a track if a missile were to be launched.
This preface is a roundabout way of sharing my new interest in Cuba, its communism and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Nov. 22, 1963, murder is noting its 50th anniversary. All kinds of shows are now on TV about it - and as you may have guessed, I can't get enough.
An added factor this time around is that I'm of the age to just barely remember sitting in our family living room and watching live coverage on our new-fangled, black-and-white TV - not that I knew it was a new invention since I had just turned 5 only two-and-a-half weeks earlier.
But I can remember watching the unfamiliar images. I can't recall my parents explaining what was happening, whether they didn't because they were too stunned, or didn't think I was old enough to grasp that something terrible had occurred. On the other hand, maybe they did explain and I just don't remember, whether I was stunned... or simply thinking it was the "Three Stooges."
It seems perhaps there should be a study of that, to see if explanations, or lack thereof, has tied to any later actions or inaction in our lives.
Back to learning more about that era, one of my first Internet searches was on the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs. I suspected they were the same event. Imagine my surprise at learning they weren't; the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion, a response to the communistic takeover of Cuba by Fidel Castro, was likely a partial cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
I also learned a commander on a Cuban submarine then prevented what could have been a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia and possible destruction of the world. He would not provide the third of three keys required to perform the submarine's nuclear missile launch. Search for Soviet naval officer Vasili Arkhipov, the Brigade Chief of Staff on submarine B-59. Or watch the PBS series "Secrets of the Dead" episode on Arkhipov.
Meanwhile, I've also learned assassin Lee Harvey Oswald spent time in Russia. He used an unusual, cheap gun; an episode the PBS program "Nova" also showed, using modern technology and forensics, the trajectory of just one bullet shot from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas by Oswald could have hit both Kennedy and then-Texas Governor John Connally, who survived his wound.
That puts doubts on conspiracy theories. One had said there was a second shooter on a "grassy knoll," bringing that phrase into common use.
It also set up what I recall to be a hilarious "Seinfeld" episode that was a parody of the single or "magic bullet" theory, noted in the 1991 film "JFK." The two-part episode titled "The Boyfriend" instead used a "magic loogie" theory on whether or not the New York Mets' Keith Hernandez had spit at Jerry and George. It makes me smile just thinking of the humor of the supposed home film found of the alleged spitting incident, played in slow motion and analyzed. I also read online that this is actually called a "pastiche," which celebrates instead of mocking a style as a parody does.
So my current involvement with Kennedy includes missiles, Cuba's ties to communism, "the grassy knoll," a single bullet, and conspiracy theories of all types. Exploring this history is fascinating, whether or not the whole truth is ever known.
Just one question. What is a school book depository? I've only ever heard of it in Texas. I'm left to wonder if perhaps textbooks there would be lost if not all in one spot? Must look into that further.
In conclusion, I advise you to research the Kennedy era for yourself - or delve into some other area of interest. See what you discover and how it sticks when you take the initiative yourself.
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