The 48th Anniversary of the Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy has arrived, meaning that the semi-centennial is only two years away. For those who have been studying the case for almost half century, they must feel as though they are approaching a significant milestone, and a good time to reflect on all the discoveries and debates they have made over the years. For younger researchers like myself, this is a time to look ahead. We must carefully plan how to teach the next generation about one of the most important and misunderstood events in world history as it slowly slips from living memory and into the static realm of recorded history.
Lee Sanger Goldin, the assassination agnostic, visits Dealey Plaza
This is the third November 22nd to pass since I started this website, and I find myself reflecting on the various people I have met and corresponded with over the past 2 and half years. I’ve discussed the events of Dealey Plaza with the wildest conspiracy theorists and the most determined conspiracy debunkers. In my quest for agnosticism, I have been accused of dilettantism but also lauded for my objectivity. I’ve consulted with “both sides of the aisle,” asking for feedback from the various authors who I’ve read over the years. I’ve received searing criticism from the heads of conspiracy groups like the Citizens for Truth in the Kennedy Assassination’s Jim DiEugenio or the Coalition on Political Assassinations’ John Judge, but also praise from some of the most hardcore conspiracy authors, such as David Lifton and Douglas Horne. I’ve corresponded with perhaps the most despised conspiracy debunkers, Gerald Posner, John McAdams and David Von Pien. I’ve visited the notorious Dealey Plaza, and recreated the famous assassination films and photographs with the helpful consultation of House Select Committee photographic expert Robert Groden, who spends his weekends camped out on the grassy knoll.
The Texas School Book Depository
Then there’s the ordinary folks I’ve spoken with. There was the angry housewife behind the picket fence who was convinced that this was the location of the second gunman. Then there was the friendly old retiree holding vigil alone in the book depository who was convinced that Oswald could have made the shot. There was the teenage kid who believes the notorious umbrella man killed the president, and the forensic pathologist who explained to me why the magic bullet wasn’t magic at all. There was the lawyer who told me that the truth of the Kennedy assassination would be revealed in our lifetime, and the history teacher who told me that the truth was there all along.
What have I discovered? That Oswald could have done it, but that doesn’t mean he did. And that there is no proof of a massive conspiracy, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t. As for the majority of people who are convinced one way or the other, I’ve come to regard their opinions in the same way I do people who claim to know conclusively whether there is or is not a God. Who are you to know? If anyone knew for sure who pulled the trigger, they’re probably dead. Everyone else from Earl Warren to Oliver Stone has just been an educated guesser—some more educated than others.
The picket fence atop the "Grassy Knoll"
So what am I planning on doing this November 22nd? Going to the chiropractor. Of all the people I’ve discussed the Kennedy Assassination with, I think she understands it the best. She doesn’t look at the event from the perspective of “who shot from where when.” She looks at it in terms of the pain it caused, and how we can alleviate it. Pain is, after all, her business. And relieving it is her best skill. At our first session, we took a detailed discovery trip down memory lane to document every possible event that might be causing me pain. We discussed bailing off bikes, getting in car accidents, fighting with friends, theatrical stunts gone wrong, and jumping off rooftops. Battle scars from a quarter-century of living on the edge. She told me I was too young to feel this pain. Then she cracked her knuckles and leaned into me, working through the pain slowly and methodically, just as America has done with the pain of the Kennedy assassination for the past half a century. When the session was finished, we set a date for the next appointment. November 22nd was the date she picked. I asked her if she understood the significance. She nodded and launched into her memories of that whole weekend so long ago. She told me of her brother watching the murder of Oswald on live TV. I told her I run a website on the Kennedy assassination. Again, she told me I was too young to feel that pain. We talked about how it was a collective pain that America has still not gotten over. I gave her a link to my website, she gave me a hug when I tried to shake her hand.
A solemn monument near Dealey Plaza
That night I got a comment on the website that was eerily familiar to the story my chiropractor told me about her brother. It was a man describing the horror of being a young boy watching murder tear his country apart on live television. I wondered if perhaps my chiropractor had given the link to her brother. Or perhaps it was just a coincidence. But as we all know, when it comes to the Kennedy Assassination, no coincidence is EVER overlooked or robbed of potential significance. But if it WAS a coincidence, then all the better: It proves the point that the pain we feel from the loss of Kennedy is shared, and that the experience most Americans felt was so uniform as to be almost interchangeable. If it wasn’t my chiropractors’ brother telling the tale, it was another man with the same tale. I’ve heard it before. From my father, from my professors, from the authors I’ve read, and even the owner of the second-hand book store who introduced me to those authors. So what do we need as Americans to recover from this collective tragedy and excise this universal pain? We need an adjustment. Many people who study the assassination come from the perspective that they have discovered the final truth and that all who disagree with them are horribly misguided. This attitude needs adjustment. We need to work together to find the truth as a Lincolnian “team of rivals” determined to find what really happened, whether it proves our personal theories or not, instead of working to find the bits of circumstantial evidence and hearsay that reinforce those theories. The history books taught in schools cite Oswald as the lone gunman with such certainty as to imply that this fact has never been seriously debated. And when the debate is presented on television or in movies it is so lopsided as to indicate that the debate has already been won. This too needs adjustment. Only then can we discover the truth, and finally excise our national pain.