On November 22, 1963 at 2:30 pm in Oxford Ohio I was taking a shower in the bathroom located between the kitchen and the bedroom my 2 roommates occupied in the antebellum house 9 of us shared my senior year at Miami University. I lived alone in the “front parlor” off the entrance hall. And had to walk through the kitchen to enter the bathroom, because the parlor which had been connected to the bathroom through the room adjacent to the parlor (now used as a bedroom) had been cut off by massive sliding parlor doors that were firmly locked in place for “privacy.” So my “roommates” egress from their room to freedom was through the bathroom into the kitchen that at night was customarily covered with a carpet of roaches.
My roommates were in their room entertaining the girlfriends they married soon after graduation.
Suddenly the girls screamed, “JFK has been shot!” And I was ordered to fly from the shower dripping wet so they could exit from the confines of their awkwardly placed room. I urged them to leave right away. But they were all accounting majors and would be “embarrassed” unless “coast was clear,” although I was obscured behind the shower grimy curtain and assured them I didn’t care. So they waited until I finished my shower in a state of shock and profound despair. I remember this moment vividly; and the aftermath which became the Viet Nam War (as well as all the Civil Rights Legislation).
There was a draft in 1963, and Viet Nam was not much more than a rumored “police action” the day JFK was shot. We – Americans did not know about hawks that were neocon drones propelled by lobbyists for the military-industrial complex, i.e. – sociopathic greedy profiteers without conscience from mass murder. But JFK knew, because Eisenhower knew and explained this to JFK when he was elected. And we knew about McCarthyism and communism paranoia creation for power.
In 1964 to avoid winding up in a dirty wet fox hole or dead in a rice paddy on someone’s farm, I joined the Navy after graduation, and became an officer candidate in Newport R.I. I remember the lies that emerged, after the fact, about the Gulf of Tonkin; and the “domino theory” promulgated by the John Birch Society, founded by the Koch’s father, and our “ever vigilante” military-industrial complex.
Kennedy, from later accounts by the most objective historian/journalists, like David Halberstam, had learned that advice from generals could not always be trusted based on his lousy advice to bomb Cuba from generals regarding the Bay of Pigs. Historians agree this would have started a nuclear war. David Halberstam wrote in “The Best and the Brightest” that Kennedy was in the process of determining how to extricate the Army’s presence from Nam.
Johnson, it seems, in order to have national unity and continuity after JFK’s assassination, kept some trusted Kennedy neo-con advisors like McNamara, a Harvard neocon hawk. Decades later McNamara wrote a book apol0gizing for his role in accelerating the War and expressing his profound remorse for all the deaths and suffering. But in 1964 Johnson got sucked deeper into a no win civil war by the “brilliant” JFK neocons and generals itching for another crack at “communists” that had been denied them in the aftermath of WWII and Korea. Johnson has not had appropriate recognition for pushing through all the Civil Rights legislation!
So today – because we are still enmeshed in the longest war ever in America’s history – 10 years in Afghanistan; with Issa investigating 4 deaths in Benghazi; and the pervasive influence of the military-industrial war profiteers still treasured by Republican neo-cons who would prefer to not negotiate with Iran or Syria – it is instructive to remember what was on JFK’s mind on the day he was shot and the path he was embarking on to avoid senseless war.
The past that should serve as prologue has been lost in a sea of lobbyists and self-fulfilling neo-con prophecies.