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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Interesting History ...

Today is the 48th anniversary of the shooting of President John F Kennedy, the first Roman Catholic President of the US of A whose election, as I recall, was greeted with almost as much hype as that of the present incumbent. It is often said that his assassination is one of the world events that remain firmly in a person's mind and I can certainly say, in this case, it is true. I was at school. It was a maths class and it was interrupted with the announcement.

A teacher came in, told our class master, who told us, then returned to the lesson. That was it. As we weren't in the US it was shocking to hear that a head of state had been deliberately killed, but it apparently didn't affect us - so we just went on with our school  work.

I remember it was on the news that night on the radio (South Africa didn't get television until the mid 1970s) and it was a week or more before any of us saw it on the Movietone News in the cinema. By then, of course, a great deal more had happened, including the killing of the accused gunman. I was astonished recently to learn that, at the time of this assassination, killing a US President wasn't a "Federal Crime" and the whole affair was, technically, the jurisdiction of the Dallas Police Department and no one else.

One can only wonder whether anything would have been different if JFK had not died. Would Vietnam have escalated the way it did? Perhaps not, since L B Johnson appears to have made that his "Cuba crisis" stand. On the other hand, there are a whole slew of very good social programmes that the US owes to LBJ and not to Kennedy. JFK made the promises, LBJ delivered them.

History certainly has a number of interesting "what ifs" attached ...

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