Kennedy’s assassination not just history


Michael Graves

Contributing Writer

mwgraves@smu.edu

Yesterday I was reading a story on Associated Press that claimed the assassination of John F. Kennedy is just a page in a history book for millennials.

This claim struck me, and I began to wonder how other generations view monumental, historic moments in our
nation’s history.

I spoke with a class of high school students who don’t remember the Sept. 11 attacks, but their entire world was changed by those events. Similarly, our world is still influenced by the Kennedy assassination.

In the same AP article, students comment about their visit to The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas where Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired the rounds that killed Kennedy. I felt the article’s authors lied to me. These students still seemed affected.

Indeed, I am emotional watching the news reports from that day, especially the iconic Walter Cronkite report when he announced Kennedy’s death as he received the news from his correspondents in Dallas.

I still wonder why Kennedy was assassinated, and am skeptical of those, especially in government, who blame Oswald. I am also fascinated that our understanding of conspiracy theories comes from this event.

Kennedy represented a new era of development for the United States. We were trying to maintain global peace in the midst of a Cold War. We were in the middle of the Civil
Rights Movement.

However, Americans were also severely polarized on opinions of race and equal rights in America. Kennedy’s assassination reminded us that powerful people are often adored by many.

Indeed many individuals who identified with minority populations and progressive whites supported Kennedy. Yet, powerful people also attract radicals on the
other side.

Kennedy’s assassination gave us the idea that the government can conduct inside jobs should they feel anyone is a threat. Americans became skeptical of their power in democracy, and unsure of the government’s power in their daily lives. The event opened a new bottle of ideas that perhaps were not beneficial to our government’s control, but gave more power to people and taught them to question the authorities that control them.

Although some may now argue that the Kennedy assassination is just a moment in history, especially for those who were not alive to witness the events, we all still feel and interact within the culture that event helped to create.

Before the 9/11 attacks, planes did not just fly into buildings.

Of course it was possible for them to do so, but we were not worried that this would be a way to inflict harm upon people. Before the Kennedy assassination, perhaps people did not believe such prominent figures who promoted societal progression could be such targets of hate. Only five years later Martin Luther King Jr. would also be assassinated.

Indeed, Kennedy’s assassination is not just a day in history for us. We may not think of the day every moment, and we may only remember the events on its anniversary, but all of us live in the culture the assassination created. These events shape our daily lives, the way we view our leaders and country, and how we look back on our monumental choices as a country.

Graves is a senior majoring in communications and religious studies.

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