Late November is a constant reminder of an earlier time of considerable public unrest, with President Kennedy’s assassination, the first of a series of assassinations of our public leaders. In his case, the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was killed while in police custody by the known minor underworld figure Jack Ruby.
While evidence in each assassination of that period suggests others were involved, and the vast majority of Americans alive in that era did not accept the conclusions of investigators, our high school history textbooks dutifully name the perpetrators in the assassinations of John F Kennedy, his brother Robert and that of Dr. Martin Luther King. Like the performances of patriotic music before a baseball game, this is the national story, the American narrative.
While Kennedy came into the presidency a declared “cold warrior,” by his third year in office he had taken down the CIA’s plans for invasion of Cuba, fired the director, Allen Dulles, defused the Cuban Missile Crisis without an invasion of Cuba his joint chiefs desired, begun a personal exchange of letters with Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev aimed at ending the Cold War, suggested to Quakers he had invited into the Oval Office (May, 1962) he had been in a process of a personal redemption, and delivered his famous American University speech calling for dramatic reduction in nuclear arms.
In a sense responding to his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address warning of the danger to America of the growing “military-industrial complex,” he had alienated General Curtis LeMay and the Joint Chiefs, the powerful John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles who were known to have directed this country during the Eisenhower administration and those military and arms industry figures bent on expanding the war in Vietnam. In short, JFK had made himself the target of the powerful around him.