Three shots in Dallas
by Jennifer Cohron
Nov 24, 2013 | 1088 views | 0 0 comments | 127 127 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jennifer Cohron
Jennifer Cohron
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Who killed JFK?

I’ve read the books and watched the shows, including several new ones that aired this month leading up to the 50th anniversary of the assassination.

After looking at the event from all angles, I am probably one of the few Kennedy junkies who is okay with not knowing who pulled the trigger.

I am more interested in how his death altered the course of history.

A part of me has always wished that I had been able to witness the ‘60s in person rather than in black and white. However, I no longer envy those who lived through this tumultuous decade.

In spite of what classic TV shows once led me to believe, there was reason to fear long before assassins stepped onto the scene.

Just 15 years after the Allies saved the world from Hitler’s tyranny, the Soviets were poised to blow us into oblivion at any second.

The world in 2013 feels as dark now as it must have back then. Sometimes I think I’m one bad day away from becoming a doomsday prepper.

I now have a better understanding of what a war-weary generation needed from Kennedy and what his rhetoric inspired — hope.

It’s such a catchword these days that I wish there were another word to describe the look I see on the people’s faces in the mountain of archival footage.

He said the best years were yet to come, and they believed him.

Then he died, his successors lied and hope was choked out by disillusionment.

I hadn’t given much thought to how much Kennedy’s death and the events that followed affected my generation until I was chastised in a recent interview for always using the word “politician” in a negative context.

The woman I was interviewing had worked for a man who was a contemporary of Kennedy’s, Congressman Carl Elliott of Jasper.

Kennedy didn’t need money, and Elliott never got rich. Both men thought politics could be used to advance the greater good.

How quaint is this idea of trusting one’s government and its leaders.

My generation is perhaps more cynical than any that preceded us.

It’s one thing to believe that Oswald didn’t act alone in killing JFK. It’s quite another to believe that the terrorist attacks on 9/11 or the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were hoaxes.

Journalism is a tough field for people like myself who struggle daily to see the glass as half full.

The articles and documentaries that I have followed most closely this month are the ones that tell the assassination story through the eyes of the reporters who covered it.

UPI's White House Correspondent Merriman Smith was the first member of the press to recognize the loud noises in Dealey plaza as gunshots and the first to be told the president was dead.

Although his source, a Secret Service agent, was certainly credible enough, Smith chose to follow the UPI motto of “get it first, but first, get it right” with a cryptic bulletin: “Kennedy seriously wounded, perhaps seriously, perhaps fatally by assassin’s bullet.”

Of course, it was Walter Cronkite of CBS who made the official announcement to the world.

While he is certainly the most well-known voice of the assassination coverage, there were dozens of other professionals scrambling behind the scenes to cover the aftermath of three shots fired in Dallas.

At some point, each had to come to terms with the news that the president was dead.

It sometimes get overlooked that reporters have feelings too.

The very good ones know how to work first and process later. I am certain I would not have been able to do so.

Watching how this unthinkable event was handled by the media has given me a newfound appreciation for the career I chose.

Like politics, the field of journalism has taken a beating in the last half century and for legitimate reasons.

However, we still need people who are available to write the first version of history so that people like me can still feel a part of it 50 years down the road.