I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
As though I’d lost a father of mine
– Phil Ochs
This weekend marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Four and a half decades after the tragic event and no one really knows if the conspiracy theories are right or if Lee Harvey Oswald truly acted on his own.
Kennedy’s assassination is a benchmark event for most people alive then. Everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news, just as in later generations we remember where we were when we heard the other John, Mr. Lennon, had been shot dead. In Israel, where I live, we all recall the Saturday night when Yitzhak Rabin was hit.
They were all killed by angry young men. And Oswald was himself gunned down on November 24, 1963, just two days after JFK.
On April 7, 1964, a 26-year-old detective in the New Orleans Police Department skipped up the steps into the Old Civil Courts building in New Orleans and presented himself to the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy.
I’d always known my father had been acquainted with Oswald. They had not only grown up half a block away from each other, but had shared homerooms at school. Sitting alphabetically, my old man Fred sat in front of Oswald for years. O’Sullivan next to Oswald.
Sifting through my Dad’s papers I came upon a letter from Jacqueline Kennedy thanking my father for appearing before the commission. It wasn’t something he spoke of often — just a tidbit of information in a life that went on to greater adventures.
Not long ago, as I thumbed through the stacks at a used bookstore, I came upon the official Warren Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, a 726-page concentration of the report. I flipped it open and sure enough there was my old man’s name and testimony.
JFK’s assassination has always been clouded by conspiracy. I mean, how can one angry young man, a lone gunman kill the President of the United States traveling in a moving motorcade? My father always intimated that he believed there was more to the story and that plots to kill JFK and assassinated black rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. crossed paths in New Orleans.
There were a lot of mysteries in New Orleans in the 1960s and my father, as commander of intelligence at the New Orleans Police Department, had a ringside seat.