The answer is--in Verna Everts' seventh grade English class.
The envelope please.
Of course, the question is, "Where were you or what were you doing when you first heard of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy?"
It was a Friday afternoon; 1:30 p.m.; I was 11 years old (nine days away from being 12) so I was in Verna Everts' seventh grade reading class. We were immediately sent home from school, and like most other Americans, I spent that weekend watching coverage on TV; for me it was Uncle Walter on CBS, Channel 3 Burlington.
Lest you're ODing on JFK assassination material with the 50th anniversary tomorrow, allow me to offer one new book.
Compiled by former Minnesota Governor, Independent Jesse Ventura, it's entitled "They Killed Our President--63 Reasons To Believe There Was A Conspiracy To Assassinate JFK".
Note that I used the verb "compiled" rather than "written" because this 350-page book in 63 individual chapters is really a vast compilation of many of the conspiracies that have surfaced in the last half century. Don't get me wrong; I don't mean that phrasing as a putdown at all. In fact, as Ventura points out quite well, those wedded to the Warren Commission view of history seem only too quick to demonize the opposition by referring to them with the disparaging term "conspiracy theorists".
Until a few months ago, I had spent virtually no time looking into assassination theories. After all, our government had concluded, with that panel of august personages on the Warren Commission, that Lee Harvey Oswald acted as a lone gunman.
More and more in recent years, I've come to believe my government less and less. Revelation that the NSA was spying on hundreds of millions of Americans was merely the icing on a very rich cake.
I do not believe much my government tells me any more (weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, you say? Hardly).
I certainly do not believe much the Warren Commission had to say, and frankly I resent gray beards like Bob Woodward who was on one of the Sunday chat shows admonishing us to respect the Warren Commission this past weekend.
To borrow a phrase Jesse Ventura might use, Hogwash, Mr. Woodward, Hogwash. Actually, Jesse might indeed use saltier language, and you should know that before you delve into this book. As always, he pulls no punches.
A few months ago, I read the excellent book by James Douglass "JFK and the Unspeakable".
Since then, like apparently about 70 percent of Americans, I've become a "conspiracy theorist" and have read and viewed as much as possible on this subject so vital to our history. Included in that body of "stuff" was last week's Nova special which purports to prove the viability of the single bullet theory and purports to offer scientific proof of how JFK's head could have jolted backward even if he'd been shot from the front.
Again comes the word Hogwash.
You need not believe all 63 points Governor Ventura makes to be left with a firm conviction that Oswald was not a single deranged lone Communist gunman. Even if you believe a fraction of what Governor Ventura says, it's hard to see how Oswald could have acted alone.
In fact, I've come to believe that Oswald was just what he claimed to be on national TV -- a patsy. That was just a day before Oswald was shot down by Jack Ruby live on national TV.
I am convinced that Oswald was having lunch (and a Pepsi) on the second floor of the Texas Book Depository building at the time JFK was shot. In fact, of his 63 points, Ventura is at his most convincing with number 15, "logistically impossible that Oswald fired the shot". If you read nothing else (and you can really pick this book up anywhere), check out that chapter.
Of course, Ruby's involvement remains one of the more sordid points in the entire affair. Ventura, whose book is thoroughly researched and refers to any number of previous books (including the Douglass book), offers tremendous proof that Ruby knew Oswald, that he had mob connections, and that he killed Oswald to prevent the truth from ever getting out.
I am convinced that Oswald’s 1959 "defection" to the Soviet Union was all planned by the United States government and that upon his return to this country. That's one of the more convoluted sections of the book...or indeed of any look into the assassination.
Hey, I'm not saying all of Ventura's book is an easy read; some parts are; some are not, but I managed to get through the entire book in two short days.
While the forensics are intriguing, they can be rather tough to get through, so here I'll recommend the later sections of the book, from Chapters 49 on. It strains credulity to think that so many people who just up and died (often by questionable suicides) just as they were about to offer evidence in the affair.
Ventura offers proof, beyond a reasonable doubt in my view, that anti-Castro Cubans conspired with various Mafia figures and CIA renegades (albeit not the top chair of command) to kill the president.
Ironically, the same group with brother Bobby set in motion to assassinate Castro may well have been turned to kill John F. Kennedy. Bobby seemed to realize that prior to his death.
Currently, there's an entire book out which posits that President to Be Lyndon Baines Johnson was at the head of the JFK plot. While I'm not ready to accept that, Ventura spends a chapter on it, and I would discount the Warren Commission before I would discount LBJ's involvement.
For example (from page 316 of the Ventura book), "A fingerprint at the so-called sniper's nest in Dealey Plaza was positively identified by a certified expert in that field who determined clear 14-point identification, far exceeding the legal requirement of proof for a match. That fingerprint belonged to the notorious Mac Wallace, a convicted killer who, for many years, took care of the 'dirty work' for Lyndon Johnson.
Ventura also quotes LBJ mistress Judyth Vary Baker as quoting LBJ from November 21, 1963, "After tomorrow, those goddam Kennedys will never embarrass me again--that's no threat--that's a promise." (page 273)
Ventura doesn't offer a lot of new information, but he puts it all together in a lucid convincing fashion, certainly enough to do shame to the likes of Vince Bugliosi, Bill O'Reilly, and Posner who have penned apologias for the Warren Commission over the years.
Here's something, for example, I never knew. Dan Rather, who went on to greater fame and shame with CBS, got an advance view of the Zapruder film and insisted--totally in error of course--that JFK's head jolted forward. He excuse--he didn't have enough time to view the film. Had I known that, I would have been less prone to trust Rather through the years.
Probably the best part of Ventura's book is a 12-page conclusion, rich in quotes from Dwight David Eisenhower's military industrial complex warning and Kennedy's American University speech. Basically it amounts to a challenge to Americans to take our government back...back from the forces who would not only kill a president but deceive us and lie to us to hide the truth.
Especially poignant is a reference back to 1961 when JFK, faced with advice from his National Security Council that if we were to lose 30 million Americans, we should launch a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. As he left the room, JFK turned to his Secretary of State and snapped, "And we call ourselves the human race."
Without John F. Kennedy, our history would conceivably have been much worse, and that's most likely why the war mongers killed him.
(My Democratic friends should keep in mind that JFK championed tax breaks even when Republicans wanted to use more and more tax money to involve us in military exploits around the world).
Parts of the Ventura book are not easy to get through, but once you read this book, if you are like me, you won't be satisfied to stop looking at this sad episode tomorrow. In fact, I think I need to check out a half dozen other books from District Attorney Jim Garrison's to "Lee And Me". And no, O'Reilly, Posner, and Bugliosi and the cover-up mavens will not be on my reading list.