Dear Mr. President, or Jack as your friends called you…may I call you Jack? About one month ago was your birthday on May 29th – had you lived to today, you would have been 104. You were without a doubt one of the most charismatic and charming presidents in the 20th century, or at the very least, in my lifetime. As a young boy growing up, I, like most of our country, truly revered you. You were a war hero (even though there is some debate about the details), your wonderful smile and dashing looks made you very popular with the ladies, you founded the peace corps, you forced the Russians to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba, and you were certainly one of the most popular characters of your time.
Your presidency ran from 1960-1963. At that time, I was in grades 1-3, so quite honestly my true knowledge of you was what I was being taught by my teachers and my parents. I really did not know enough to form a valuable opinion – I was just a very very young kid. However, it was quite apparent that you were adored by them all, most of our country, and your popularity spread throughout the world, in those innocent and media-controlled times.
The first true memory I have of you, and I can see it vividly in my mind to this very day, was a day in third grade at the Pennville, Indiana school. In those days all school grades were housed in one building, grades K-12, so there was no elementary, middle, intermediate, high, or any other type of school designation. My father was the principal of this school and as an only child I got both special advantages, at times, and picked on, at other times. But on this particular day, I was sitting in my third-row seat, third from the front, enjoying Mrs. McCreary’s instruction. It was a Friday and the date was November 22, 1963.
We had recently returned from lunch time, and recess, and were getting into a reading assignment, when about 1:40 pm, the chimes were heard over the intercom, and my father broke into the silence of class to state: “I have an announcement of importance…President Kennedy has been shot in Dallas Texas, and his condition is unknown. Please take a moment of silence to pray for the President and his family… [after a pause of about 30 seconds, my father spoke again] Please resume your classes and we will update you when we learn anything further.”
About thirty minutes passed with honestly no one returning to their reading assignment. We third graders really didn’t know what to think, say, or do, so obviously some of us were asking our classmates – what does this mean? From the hallways you could hear a spattering of people talking and some sounds of people crying intermixed in those conversations. Just then, the intercom chimes went off again and immediately before my father, the principal, said a word, the sounds of crying, emanating from the hallways, were magnified quite a bit louder, and then my father said these words: “Your attention please…President Kennedy has been pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital in Dallas…please let us pause for a moment of prayer.”
Mrs. McCreary began to cry, the sounds of crying from the hallways, increased, and most of us students also began to shed tears. We all knew this was a bad thing and a sad thing, but I’m not sure we truly understood the gravity of what had just happened. Another 30 minutes later, the chimes sounded again and the announcement this time told us we would be released from school early, and each classroom would be told when the students could be released as soon as the busses arrived at the school. Mr. President, this was a big deal, and yet I, along with most of my classmates didn’t have the maturity nor the experience and knowledge to truly absorb how big a deal this was.
When I got home, neither my father nor mother spoke of your death, but they immediately turned our black and white TV to CBS to watch Walter Cronkite’s updates on the day’s events. While we watched, my parents were packing their suitcases, as we had planned to spend the weekend with my grandparents in Indianapolis, some 2 hours southwest of Pennville. We arrived at my grandparents’ house and they were camped in front of their TV as well. We came in and asked for any updates and were informed that they had arrested a man named Lee Harvey Oswald for shooting you, Mr. President. Saturday came and went without much fanfare, I played in my grandparents’ monstrous yard while my parents and grandparents did some things around the house and played some cards.
The next morning, Sunday, we got up, ate breakfast, went to and returned from church, and upon returning to my grandparents’ house, the others did some things around the house while my grandfather and I watched some more TV. He and I watched as they took Oswald from his city holding cell, through the basement of police headquarters, to the county jail where he would stay until his trial. The TV stations were broadcasting this transfer. The basement was full of people with notebooks, cameras, and some in police uniforms. A commotion began as if something was occurring that you could not see on the TV screen. The commotion was two very large policemen, escorting the handcuffed Oswald by the arms, off an elevator and into the basement. They came around the corner into the camera’s view with reporters shouting out questions and the crowd seemingly all closing in on Oswald and his two escorts. Just then, a dark figure in a suit; Jack Ruby, lunged from the crowd, towards Oswald, and instantly pointed a gun at him and shot him in the midsection, at point blank range. Oswald was rushed to Parkland hospital, yes, the same Parkland where you were rushed to Mr. President, and Lee Harvey Oswald would be pronounced dead, almost exactly 48 hours after you were pronounced dead, Mr. President.
Jack, this may sound a bit morbid, but from those three days in 1963 until about 1980, I made it a bit of an obsession of mine to study everything about you and your unfortunate demise. I followed the trials which quite frankly didn’t reveal much more that what had been reported in the press. Then Jack, your Vice President, and now the newly sworn in President, Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order 11130 to create a commission to investigate your assignation. Known as the Warren commission, this group headed by then Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, took 22 months to issue their 888-page report which concluded that Oswald acted alone in killing you and that Ruby had acted along in killing Oswald. Jack, I followed this so closely that I have a copy of the full Warren Commission report in my home office.
One thing I’ve always wondered about heaven and the after life is whether or not those who have died still can see, or are still aware of, what is occurring back here on earth? I believe they can. I say this because if those who have gone before us, can still see what is occurring, then I guess you know all of this that I am describing. But if it is not true, then Jack, you would be surprised to know that the story of your death, and the theory’s surrounding your death, did not end with the issuance of the Warren Report. In fact, this report, along with a certain home movie camera film, that would be revealed in a 1969 trial, and aired on public TV in 1975, would launch one of the greatest conspiracy theories of all time. As we see in this film, taken by Abraham Zapruder, that the pure timing of the apparent wounds to you and Texas Governor Connally, seem to prove the Warren commission wrong and the motions of your two bodies in the car while being shot, have many knowledgeable forensics leaders seriously questioning the Warren commissions findings and conclusions.
Mr. President, we will never know the true story of your death. I have my own personal views which I feel I can support and I will mention later in this letter. You may also not know that there were approximately 60 some eye witnesses to your murderer who were interviewed and whose testimony was deemed critical to proving Oswald’s guilt, yet over 90% of them would be dead within the next two years, and only one of those eye witnesses died of natural causes. Seems very odd or was it just a coincidence?
Jack, unfortunately this knowledge of you and what happened to you, was my obsession for several years. However, I know you would prefer people to remember your life and not your death. So, to pay a very small tribute to your accomplishments, here are what most people feel are your top ten achievements:
1. He Was the 35th President of the United States
2. He Was Awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal
3. He Prevented the Cold War from Escalating
4. He Initiated the Alliance for Progress
5. He Established the New Frontier
6. He Improved the U.S. Economy
7. He Founded Peace Corps
8. He Signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
9. He Signed the Equal Pay Act
10. He Won the Pulitzer Prize
Jack, I will always have a place in my heart for you, but mainly because of the horrible way you were murdered and the ensuing conspiracies over your murder. However, I cannot be a fan of your politics, nor your lifestyle. I made a promise to myself when I started this business of mine and began posting messages, that I would never say a disparaging thing about anyone, so I will not start with you. You were the first president elected since Abraham Lincoln who did not win the popular vote when you defeated Richard Nixon. You did serve in the Navy and you were a hero to your men, so those are great things to me. At your time in our history, I do feel you did a decent job as president, even though I think you gave too much away from our country to other countries in many of your policies. But you did improve our economy and you did keep nuclear weapons out of Cuba, less than 100 miles off of our southern shores, so I do support these results, and thank you for your efforts.
However, for good or bad reasons, your importance to me will always be your tragic death, and the circumstances around it. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a literary achievement for a paper I wrote about your death. This achievement gave me the opportunity to view the evidence from your murder and study not just that event, but the Warren Commission findings, as well as the 1976 House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations papers. My conclusion is we will never know the truth. Mr. President, I think the Zapruder film proves there had to me more than one shooter on that day when you were killed. If Oswald was one of the shooters, and one of his shots went through your throat, as the autopsy drawings and photo’s show, then that next shot occurred far too fast to have come from the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle Oswald “allegedly” fired at you – not physically possible to shoot two shots, that fast, on that bolt lever rifle – this has been proven.
Add to this fact the evidence that nearly everyone in Dealey plaza heard shots fired from the stockade fence on the grassy noll, and the fact that your head lunged violently and dramatically from front to back when you were hit in the head, certainly seems to indicate a shot from the front and not from six stories above you and to your right, at a severe angle. Let’s add the fact that the bullet that hit you in the right shoulder blade and then crushed your larynx (an upward motion by the way – not seemingly from 6 stories above you) then left your throat and entered Governor Connally just below his right armpit, which then impacted and destroyed four inches of his right fifth rib. This same bullet then exited Connally’s chest, entered his arm just above his right wrist and then cleanly shattered his right radius bone into eight pieces. The bullet exited just below the wrist at the inner side of his right palm and finally lodged in his left inner thigh. Known as the “magic bullet theory” this bullet crushed Kennedy’s larynx, Connally’s fifth rib and then fractured his arm, and then lodged in his leg, only to later be found to have fallen out of Connally’s leg and land on the stretcher. By the way this bullet was in pristine shape as if it had never hit anything let alone crushed three major bones. Quite an amazing fete for one bullet!!!
Jack, Mr. President, I do believe that Oswald was one of the men who killed you, but I emphasize just one. As I believe their had to be someone shooting from in front of you, likely on, or around, the grassy knoll, but as I said we will never know for sure.
I know you set out to do great things as President, and you did accomplish a fair number of objectives. But sadly, you will likely be more known for the way you died as opposed to the way you lived. Yes, I am one of the American’s who have perpetuated this remembrance of you, and for that I share some blame and sorrow. But your death did wake up America from a sleepy, take for granted, quiet and innocent age, and made us all remember that evil lurks and that we put far too much faith and trust in our government instead of where it needs to be – in God.
Jack, you were a practicing Catholic, a belief that nearly cost you the 1960 election. Thus, I believe you were a truthful man and you truly worshipped Jesus and His Father. Thus, this means you were a man of faith and the love of God. So, if I have learned anything from you, it is that my faith, trust, respect, and confidence cannot be of other men, politicians, nor the government, but it must be, first and foremost, of God. Governments and politicians have always come and gone, some better than others, but the only constant in life is God, never changing, always loving. So, I thank you for being a part of a personal infatuation that taught me more about men and politics, than truly about you and your life. It’s these lessons that have helped seal my faith in God and my love for how I can turn my life, my worries, my struggles, my sins, and my thoughts over to Him, and through Him, all things are not only possible, but also made whole and new.
Thank you, John “Jack” Kennedy, for your life…and your death!
Most Sincerely, Kent.