Hodge: JFK–Loss of a president and our trust

I suppose it is understandable that such grief inspiring, cataclysmic events lodge or dislodge memory bank data.

I remember where I was. In fact, I remember the moment well, even though I was only eight years old and generally have a pretty poor memory.

Still, I remember exactly where I was and exactly what was said.

I’d been faking sick (again) so as to stay home from school.

It was a ploy I’d perfected early in my educational days, opting out of curricular instruction for a warm blanket, hot soup, and a chance to hang out with my favourite person in the world at that point —mom.

The fact that less than two years before we had purchased our first black and white TV (and I was already hooked to the one-channel wonder) may also have held influence.

The couch I was ‘recuperating’ upon was located in a rental house on Abbott Street.

The large, beautiful, old two-story house belonged to a lady name Maude Roxby and looked over what is now (appropriately enough) known as the Maude Roxby Bird Sanctuary. (MLA Norm Letnick now owns and lives in the home).

Regardless, I digress.

I was fully ensconced in the riveting animated (and poorly so) children’s show called Fireball XL-500, when the program was suddenly boom-boxed by a faceless voice.

“We interrupt this program to bring you a breaking news flash. President John F. Kennedy has been shot. Stay tuned for further news.”

I remember staring blankly at the television for a minute unable to actually process what the faceless voice had just told me.

Even at age eight, I knew something sinister and profoundly shocking had taken place, and it was an incident that would have overwhelming impact on the world for a long time. Little did I comprehend just how long.

It made no sense then, and it still makes no sense.

That particular announcement, for many, was the aha moment signalling the end of the innocence.

If Americans and Canadians were not already living in a world of suspicion and mistrust—the Kennedy assassination was the turning point.

In addition—that few minutes of shock and disbelief is probably still the iconic time-line defining trivia question for baby boomers: “Where were you when JFK was killed?”

Such memory lane reminders are not unique to JFK. Different decades, time periods, and generations have their own ‘where were you’ questions: John Lennon, Martin Luther King, the moon landing. But few, however, held the impact of that infamous day in Dallas.

I’m not sure what sort of reflection it is when a society defines its greatest memories by the dates of people’s violent demise, assassinations, massive death, or natural disasters.

I suppose it is understandable that such grief inspiring, cataclysmic events lodge or dislodge memory bank data; I’m just not sure what that says about us a species.

Certainly the JFK assassination is probably the most significant historical flashback for anyone age 55 and older.

Unless you drank way too much Sleepytime Tea, or were stuck under a large rock last week you were likely inundated with TV shows, radio, online media stories or newspapers and magazine articles that recalled the infamous assassination that took place 50 years ago.

I listened or read a great amount of it and one particular reality remains in my brain. We know very little more about what really happened that day, than we did within minutes of the actual incident.

Despite all the talk, books, movies, magazines and ongoing investigations, Kennedy’s assassination still garners more speculation, debate, and attention than any other murder in modern history.

It has become so convoluted and theorized, I am not sure that if the truth actually was discovered we’d either recognize it or believe it.

Certainly the load of poppycock that has been spoon-fed to the public by the U.S. government is a farce, sprinkled perhaps with some half truths. With the initial Warren Commission and other ‘investigations’ over the years proven to have been gong shows, it’s unlikely we will ever know the truth.

Many folks still believe, or have come to believe, that at least some level of U.S. government, military, or law enforcement members were involved in the demise of JFK. Some suggest it likely involved a combination of the above or even all three.

Some speculate JFK was snuffed because of Vietnam, others point at the Cuban crisis, the even nasty commies from Russia, or the mob, or…

Many maintain Lee Harvey Oswald was not even involved or was simply a scapegoat in the plot. A bundle more believe he was involved in the assassination but was not the only one and in fact part of a bigger assassination team.

As time goes on fewer and fewer people actually believe Oswald was the lone gunman that fateful day in November of 1963.

The truth will likely never be revealed and if it does it will not set anyone or anything free.

What is for sure is that on that cold November day innocence was lost, suspicion set in, and the word conspiracy became embedded in our vocabulary and day to day mindset.

Lost in it all was not just our innocence, but something we may never get back—trust.


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