Roxanne Tellier: Sad Day In Texas

Roxanne DBAWISFifty years on, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy still sparks painful memories in the hearts and minds of North American Baby Boomers. Where were you on November 22, 1963, when the American “Camelot” ended?

Kennedy was an impossibly exotic vision to the families of the 60’s. He was the first Irish Catholic to be elected President, something that at that time seemed as impossible as there ever being an African American in the White House. (Or a woman, for that matter, but that will happen too.) He was young, a war hero, from a large and seemingly happy family, and he seemed so very much what we all wanted our families to look like.

kennedy familyImpossibly handsome, undeniably sexy, yet comfortably married with adorable young children, he was the world’s poster boy for what we all wanted to be and have when we grew up.

For many of us, too young to have yet discovered that bad things happened to good people, the madness of believing one lone crazy man had planned and executed a mission so world shattering, set us on a path of searching for truth. Was there a conspiracy? Who really pulled the trigger that sunny day in Dallas? For some, that questioning has never ended.

Kennedy Mailer quote

Conspiracy theories are not a new thing – you only need to pick up a bible to see how easily people will strike against people they define as different from themselves. The public wanted answers. The White House responded with the Warren Commission, “an 889-page final report presented to President Johnson on September 24, 1964 and made public three days later. It concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy and wounding Texas Governor John Connally and that Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald two days later. The Commission’s findings have proven controversial and have been both challenged and supported by later studies.” (Wikipedia) A commission INTO the commission followed, that found that “the Commission was reasonably thorough and acted in good faith, but failed to adequately address the possibility of conspiracy.” (Wikipedia)

If you are so inclined, you can read some of the wilder conspiracy theories here: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/pictures/five-wild-jfk-conspiracy-theories-20131120

kennedy jr with dadFor some, the conspiracy will never end. I’ll leave the speculations and theories to those who refuse to let it go, but must agree with JFK’s son, John F. Kennedy Jr., who, when asked if he intended to use his magazine “George” as a vehicle to investigate who killed his father, said “I’ve given this a lot of thought, and the answer is … No. I could spend my whole life chasing this, and probably never really find out what happened. But it would not change the operative fact that I didn’t have a dad.”

Dallas did not suddenly become the Texas city arbitrarily tarred by Lee Harvey Oswald; in fact, Dallas had been a hotbed for hostilities for years, organized and whipped into a fervor of radical ideology and hatred for Kennedy’s presidency and very existence by religious, political and corporate leaders. A recent book, DALLAS 1963, by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis, describes scenes of the wealthiest citizens of Dallas gathering in 1960 to attack, verbally and physically, Kennedy’s soon to be Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Lady Bird. A month before the assassination, Stanley Marcus, of Neiman Marcus, invited United Nations Ambassador Adlai Stevenson to speak in Dallas. He was met by an angry mob who attacked him, spat on him, even hit him on the head with a picket sign, believing that Kennedy would surrender the sovereignty of the United States to the United Nations.   (to watch an episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin’s interview of the authors, see here: http://ww3.tvo.org/video/197546/dallas-1963)

kennedy DealeyPlazaIronically, the place where Kennedy was assassinated is named after the Dealey Family, which owned the Dallas Morning News, and was instrumental in whipping up anti-Kennedy fervor in Dallas 50 years ago.” 

The human brain always searches for patterns; it’s just the way our minds work. Within days of the murder, the tabloids were pointing out the similarities between the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and JFK, most of which were superficial, but appeared eerie in light of our emotional upset. (To read the list, and the debunking, check Snopes’ page: http://www.snopes.com/history/american/lincoln-kennedy.asp)

Fifty years on, we remain stunned, in disbelief, in mourning, for a time that, on the surface, seemed to be on the cusp of a perfect dream. A single bullet shattered our illusions, and that bullet was followed by so many more, taking from us other leaders and visionaries, icons of social change, like Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. In 1968, Dion released this tribute to the fallen heroes.

kennedy 11 22 63Author Stephen King could never make sense of the death, and that need to somehow change history lead him to write a wonderful book about the event in his novel 11/22/63. In it, a very ordinary high school teacher manages to discover a way to time travel back to that moment in time, in an attempt to alter the actions that shaped his life. “11/22/63 was our 9/11,” King says. “I’m speaking as a baby boomer now.”  (kennedy 11 22 63)

bill maherBill Maher’s November 22 “New Rules” monologue addressed those Republicans who still “get a lump in their throat” for “their Kennedy” Ronald Reagan. Beyond pointing out that there was, and only ever will be, one “Kennedy” to remember, he said:  (bill maher.jpg)

“The one reason we looked uglier in the ’80’s, is because we were uglier. It was when the baby boomers, the generation that was supposed to be different, just gave up and sold out completely. Kennedy’s time was the time of “Ask not what your country can do for you.” Reagan’s was the time of “Greed is good.””

We live in a time when men and women, who want to be leaders and heroes, spit on their own legacies when they are discovered as human as we all are, or worse, capable of hypocrisy, lies and outright thievery. History has shown us that Kennedy was no Superman, he was just a man, with weaknesses and foibles, but he was also a man who embodied the attributes and virtues that we aspire to, in the dark nights of our souls.

Reject fear, greed, and doubt. Embrace love, hope, and opportunity.” – Bedros Keuilian

Amongst the strangest musical tributes to Kennedy is this song, “Seconds” by Human League. One has to wonder where in the set it would land, before or after “Don’t You Want Me Baby.”

The Postal Service’s song “Sleeping In,” muses on the Warren Commission’s conclusions, and wonders if things are really as they seem.

Phil Ochs, “Crucifixion.”

The Beach Boys “Warmth Of The Sun,” was written as a tribute to the President after the boys learned of Kennedy’s death earlier that day.

Lou Reed’s memories, ‘The Day John Kennedy Died’

Otis Span, “Sad Day In Texas”

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS_ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. After years of doing things she didn’t want to do, she’s found herself working with a bunch of crazy people who are as batshit crazy and devoted to music as she is, and so she can be found every Monday at Cherry Cola’s, completely unable to think of anything funny to say, as the co-host of Bob Segarini’s The Bobcast. Come and mock her. She’s good with that. And she laughs. A lot. But not at you.

2 Responses to “Roxanne Tellier: Sad Day In Texas”

  1. Mark Vukovich Says:

    Two days after my 18th birthday…I still cry when I think about that day….thanks for the Otis Spann record..I’d never heard that before

  2. Doug Thompson Says:

    Roxy, I’ve never believed the Warren Commission report. Too many people who had knowledge about the assassination ‘died’ mysteriously in the years since 1963 (there were over 40 of them. Compute the astronomical odds of that happening, often just days before they were going to expose the ‘truth’.

    Conspiracy theorists can be kooks and wackos…but sometimes they can actually be correct.

    The problem with the JFK assassination is, there are so many different conspiracy theories, that ‘mis-information’ can easily obscure the truth.

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