Archive for November 22, 2013

Fifty Years since Dallas

Posted: November 22, 2013 in USA

Up to nineteen sixty-three it was still possible for thinking men to believe in progress. A just war had been fought and won, and this time the result would be, if not a land fit for heroes, at least a society fit for humans.

 Recalled to Life: Reginald Hill 1992  

I heard the shocking news of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in the communal television room at Churchill Hall student accommodation just outside Bristol. In those days we did not have televisions in our own rooms. I was 19 years old and in my first term of what was to prove a difficult five years.

ttoacmI knew very little about the machinations of American politics, and like most of my generation regarded Jack Kennedy as an heroic figure, who had saved the world during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and challenged the Soviets at the Berlin Wall. There was a glamour about the youngest man to be elected* President, a man who had overcome the perceived and real handicap of being a Roman Catholic to win the most powerful position in the Western world. The fact that he had a beautiful wife in Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, helped his image among the young and made us believe the future was bound to bright. A new golden age was just around the corner.

 But the assassination of JFK on 22 November 1963, in Dallas, Texas, was only the beginning of a series of  events that stripped away our youthful optimism, and altered the close relationship forged during the war between the USA and the UK.

I don’t think young Britons would ever feel quite the same about the United States as they did in the summer of 1963, and that is one tragic legacy of Kennedy’s premature death.

There have been numerous books about the Kennedy Assassination and possible conspiracies, but one of the best fiction books is The Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry. This 1974 novel by an former CIA operative was good enough to be plagiarised in 2011, so it is highly recommended.

[* Jack Kennedy was 43 years and 236 days when he became the youngest elected president. The youngest president Teddy Roosevelt, who was only 42 years and 322 days, when he assumed office after the assassination of William McKinley.]