I was two weeks away from my ninth birthday when I witnessed my first murder, it would have been my second murder but it was raining that Thursday and my mother was certain the bubble would be up on the Presidents limousine so we wouldn’t be able to see anything. We hadn’t lived in Dallas long after having relocated from Chicago for my father’s job, he had given up his position as district committeeman for the Democratic Party in the south suburbs. Some of my earliest memories are of passing out Kennedy yard signs from the back seat of the car and the picture window sized Kennedy for President poster in our front window.
Instead that Thursday off I went disappointed that I had to go to school, I always remember my mom saying your not missing anything. You can imagine the air in the house that afternoon, my oldest sister had had her Kennedy for President sign broken over her head at a Nixon rally she was devastated. My mother was in tears but was bravely trying to explain to my sister and I what had happened. My sister was three years older then I but this was the first assassination in almost a hundred years so who could really understand what was going on. When my father got home he was furious, he had been sitting in the Trade mart in Ft. Worth and even before the announcement he thought it strange they didn’t seem to be any concern about getting ready for the Presidents arrival.
Dad had worked in the Party his whole adult life, he had met Humphrey and Adeli Stephenson and Everett Dirkson and When Kennedy came to Chicago had front row tickets to hear him speak this wasn’t his first time to see a President he had seen Truman twice. So when he said it was strange they weren’t getting ready he knew of what he spoke. Ten minutes before Kennedy’s planned arrival they hadn’t even placed the Presidential seal on the lectern. My father sat in his chair in the kitchen in a simmering rage, violence wasn’t new to dad he had seen his father beaten and jailed trying to organize the ironworkers union as a kid and he had flown in WW2 losing his best friend to a Nazi gunner.
So the following Saturday morning I like all precable TV children watched cartoons, they interrupted the programming to show Lee Harvey Oswald being moved from Dallas city jail to the county jail. I went in to the kitchen to tell the family what I had just witnessed, they discounted what I was telling them I was a child I didn’t understand. Finally they came and watched what was going on, my childhood ego assuaged that I was correct but it wasn’t me they couldn’t believe it was the events. That same Saturday they reopened Deley plaza we had driven past the book depository on Friday but were not allowed to stop. Being a child with a child’s inquisitiveness, I asked my dad what are those marks on the street that they’ve surrounded with those round black oil lamps?
Two silver gray marks on the pavement about four inches in diameter, those are marks made by the bullets that missed he explained. These I saw with my own eyes, nothing I’ve seen in the ensuing forty years has changed my mind as to what they were. I was told this by a combat veteran but according to the official history of the United States of America they weren’t there that my eyes were wrong! You see children the official story says three shots and if two hit the President then there couldn’t be two bullet marks on the pavement. On top of that if Oswald had fired them he was drunk because they were behind were the motorcade was, they had to come from the other direction.
These things affect a child when you tell them their eyes are wrong, the children become cynical. When Martin Luther King was assassinated I had no doubt, I scoffed at another lone gunman like Kennedy their were so many who wanted him dead how do you separate the suspects? My sister was now seventeen and we had moved back to Chicago she was appalled like the rest of us at Robert Kennedy’s murder but we had become shell shocked almost calloused to the events. She was a volunteer in Hubert Humphries campaign and was chosen as a page for the Illinois delegation at the national convention she was thrilled just to be on the floor of the convention but she never made it in.
Instead she was in a police riot and didn’t make it home until almost two in the morning. She wasn’t beaten or accosted but she was traumatized just he same, screaming and crying about the police beating people for nothing! She ranted on about seeing people beaten and kicked and about her ride home on the train with the bloodied victims how it looked like a war zone. I’ll always remember my father calmly explaining to her that’s what the police do, they work for the government not for you! If you stand against the government you better expect to get beaten up or worse. My dad had told me about being in a Hoover cracked wheat food riot and about his dad being brought home beaten up by the police on Thanksgiving Day, he knew of what he spoke and these things have an impact on a child.
When Bush stole the 2000 election I again saw that fury in my aging father he cussed he raged he was inconsolable and when they stopped the count I think he gave up on life all he had worked for was for naught. He explained to me about the many elections he and my mother had worked as judges, how you take the disputed ballots and divide them up between the ones believed for your candidate and the ones for your opponent. The obvious ones are accepted by both sides, the one less obvious are haggled over. If no decision can be reached they are put in a third pile when the counting is concluded the third pile is divided 50/50 but every vote is counted.
This was another assassination but unlike 1963 this was the assassination of an institution not of man. Have you ever noticed, how those governments or politicians unfriendly or non-compliant to the will of the power elite die by lone gunman or plane crashes or military coups? I guess me Castro, Aristeed and Hugo Chavez are just paranoid types. We see boogey men that aren’t really there. When Hillary Clinton speaks of a vast Right wing conspiracy she’s just off her nut.
When I post in my diary that I believe the unbridled enthusiasm at the coming Democratic landslide is misguided and naïve. I am attacked and called a Troll Oh yes he must be a troll! Can he be banned? Or relegated somewhere? Call the E thugs! We don’t like these ideas! We must think only happy thoughts or you’re a thought criminal, you see Montag we burn these books because the ideas in them upset people and cause trouble among them. Call me a pessimist if you like it is your right, but when Moe says do you see this? I’ll say no but like Curly you’ll say certainly! Don’t get mad at me if I say I told you so.
Democrats see things in terms of right and wrong fair or unfair, Republicans see things in terms of win or lose profit or loss. There is no such thing to a Republican as fair fight like Vince Lombardi winning isn’t everything it’s the only thing! Republicans will lie cheat steal what ever it takes to win they bring a gun to a knife fight and we Democrats bring a Jell-O mold and sandwiches. I once lamented to my father about the sorry state of American politics and he answered what do you expect? If you’re not willing to fight for it they’re not going to give it to you! And if your not filling to get your head busted fighting for it then you don’t deserve it! and he knew of what he spoke.