I was a second grader at St. Mary’s Cathedral School, a Roman Catholic parochial school here in Miami. The day started as all days back then did. I have no memory of it save that it was my birthday and I was expecting lots of presents when my class celebrated it later that afternoon. We had a ‘Cowboys and Indians’ theme party and I received a great present: a very cool plastic western Colt .45 that fired plastic bullets. It worked great and you could reload it just like the Cowboys in the movies. We sang songs, my classmates sang happy birthday, we ate cake and stuff, and all was right with the world. I was seven years old! When the dismissal bell rang, we formed our usual line to wait for our parents.
It was around 2:30 PM, EST time, 1:30 CST, on Friday, November 22, 1963.
The nuns who ran the school stopped us as we were leaving the classrooms and told us we had to go to church to pray because something terrible had happened. I vividly remember showing the plastic gun they had given me to my mom and she scolded me to put it away. We went to church and prayed for, what seemed to my seven-year old mind, hours and hours and hours. I vaguely remember hearing that the President had been shot. What did I know? I sort of knew that the President was a Roman Catholic like I was. All I knew was that I had a great present and I couldn’t wait to go home to play with it.
That day, and the three days that followed are forever etched in my mind. The black and white TV was on in our little house for what seemed all the time. Nothing was on the TV except that the President had been shot. My mother and father, grandfather and grandmother, all looking very, very serious. On Sunday, November 24, I saw Jack Ruby kill Lee Harvey Oswald on TV. Live. Ruby yelled, “Oswald!” and pow! Oswald went down. What did I know? I was seven. I thought I was watching a movie that lasted all weekend long. And I saw the funeral on Monday. The haunting drums that kept the pace for the escorting of the caisson carrying the President’s body still gives me goose bumps when I hear them.
In the intervening years November 22 has held a special significance for me. Not because it’s my birthday. Sadly, I haven’t had a birthday since when I haven’t remembered the assassination. It’s significant because of what it did to us, all of us, as a nation. We were hurt badly that day.
That calendrical anomaly has, I guess, made me more interested in the assassination than most Americans. Over the last forty plus years I’ve read dozens of books about the assassination by Mark Lane, David Lifton, Jim Marrs, Fletcher Prouty, Edward Jay Epstein, Gus Russo, and Henry Hurt. The two I most highly recommend are The Last Investigation, by Gaeton Fonzi, and Not In Your Lifetime by Anthony Summers (the 50th JFK anniversary edition of his book, formerly titled Conspiracy). I’ve read countless magazine articles and website essays, seen dozens and dozens of hours of documentaries, all of them outlining the myriad theories as to what happened and, of course, I’ve seen the Zapruder film over and over and over again, its gory images etched in my mind forever.
I have no doubt that there was a conspiracy involved in the assassination. Why?
Of the huge chunks of the Warren Commission Report I’ve read, the “single-bullet” theory, promulgated by the execrable Arlen Specter and his Warren Commission staff, is the most damning evidence to doubt the veracity and accuracy of the Report. I remember hearing about this “magic bullet” in 1964, a year after the assassination. In my seven year old mind it was like a movie or a TV show, and was amazed at what that bullet had done! Little did I know then that this story was a fiction created out of whole cloth, a monumental calumny, a cheap parlor trick designed to fit the verifiable facts of the shooting into a predetermined, prepackaged theory of a “lone gunman.” The goal, ostensibly, was to calm the fears and assuage the grief of a nation with a believable story, and to cover up the utter ineptitude — and maybe complicity — of those who failed to protect the President. Commission Exhibit 399, the so-called “magic bullet,” found on an unattended stretcher in Parkland Memorial Hospital, is a practically intact round from the alleged murder weapon, a cheap World War II vintage Italian Mannlicher Carcano rifle. The round was supposed to have passed through multiple body areas of both the President and Governor Connally (including hitting the radius bone in Connally’s wrist). This bullet, violating the basic laws of physics, came out practically unscathed, an almost certain forensic impossibility. CE 399 is the only empirical evidence you need to believe there was a conspiracy in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Take forty-five minutes out of your day and watch this documentary, Reasonable Doubt: The Single Bullet Theory, one of the best I’ve ever seen about the assassination.
Please note what Cyril Wecht, a world-renowned forensic pathologist, has to say about the “evidence” that underpins CE 399 in the Warren Commission report:
It is the crux of the Warren Commission report, it is the keystone of their conclusions that Lee Harvey Oswald was a sole assassin. Without the single bullet theory, from the physical evidence standpoint, there cannot be a conclusion that Oswald, or for that matter any other single human being in all the world, executed the assassination of Kennedy and the wounding of Connally.
My colleagues in forensic pathology who are members of the panel on which I serve when confronted with this they say ‘well bullets do strange things.’ That’s an exact quote. I’ll never forget it till the day I die. ‘Bullets do strange things.’ I said to them, ‘well you guys collectively have done together 150,000 medical-legal autopsies and several thousand, 10, 20 of those, 30, 40, have involved bullet wounds. Why don’t you all go back to your files and come up with one case where all of you go out and do an experiment and come in with one bullet that will do what 399 is to have done, is alleged to have done, under the single bullet theory, and you’ll prove your case.’ Well, there never was such a case file presented, there never was such an experiment conducted, there never again and never was in the past, in the history of gunfire and civilization, a bullet that did what this bullet is supposed to have done under the single bullet theory. That is the foundation of the whole report, and once you remove that keystone then the whole thing collapses.
The coverup is always worse than the crime.
No matter what I think of JFK, positive or negative — his fear of Fidel Castro, his betrayal of Brigade 2506 on Playa Girón; the sordid deal he made with Kruschev in 1962 that effectively sold out Cuban exiles in the United States (myself included) by effectively preventing us from taking military action against Fidel; the dishonest (and some might even say criminal) way in which he was elected in 1960 — the manner of his death traumatized us; it was so public, shot like a rabid dog on a street in Dallas in full view of young and old alike. Sadly, my generation may never find out the whole truth about the forces that came together on that beautiful sunny day in Dallas to murder the President. Those shots fired in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963, on my seventh birthday fifty-seven years ago today, was the seminal event of the first half of my life. It changed the world forever, and it derailed America’s unbounded optimism and gave her a terrible wound that has never healed.