Tag Archives: educational

Camelot’s Protector: Book Review of Jacqueline Kennedy’s interviews with Arthur Schlesinger.

For those that lived during the early 1960’s, Jacqueline Kennedy had become more than just the First Lady of the United States, she had become a star. The star of the show that was played out before the nation, with the young president at her side, and a nation that wanted to copy everything that she was doing. Jacqueline Kennedy only wanted a few things in life, and none of it included becoming this type of figure. However, on November 22nd, 1963, fate would take over and put her in a place only a few First Ladies before her had to endure, that of becoming a widow. Every move that she would make in those moments after the gunshots took the life of her husband, would be etched into the minds of millions of Americans for decades to come. The stained pink dress, watching her husband’s successor take the oath of office, finding the right burial spot, and ensuring the nation would never forget this time in history.

It is with history in mind that Jacqueline Kennedy sat down with famed historian and Kennedy advisor, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. for a series of interviews just months after the events in Dallas. The interviews were recorded by Schlesinger and the agreement would be that they would be sealed for 50 years. According to her daughter Caroline Kennedy, the interviews were unlocked just weeks after her mother’s death so that the family could decide if it was time for them to be released. Caroline had decided that it was not the right time, and it would be another 17 years before the public could hear the voice that had been so strong during such a tragic time.

Over the course of the next seven conversations that spanned months during 1964, Jackie Kennedy shed light on many topics regarding her husband. Some of those topics included his presidential aspirations, what he liked to read, his relationship with his brother Bobby, and his plans for after the presidency. The book features a written form of the interviews and it also includes the recordings themselves. I have found myself listening to these conversations on my way to work, and actually hearing her voice, gives the conversation some life. Mr. Schlesinger is careful to avoid many of the controversial topics that have been printed in the years after. Instead, in these early months after JFK’s death, Jackie is painting the image of JFK that she thought he deserved. Asked at one point in the conversation as to how her husband would have described himself, she states, “An idealist without illusions”. A true statement for a man that had so many visions for the country, but were left unfinished by a life cut short.

Some of the other interesting topics that are brought up by Schlesinger, is the relationship that JFK had with the FBI, and the CIA. When asked about the situation, Jackie states, “I know he was going to get rid of J. Edgar Hoover and he always said that those were the two things he did first- you know, Hoover and Allen Dulles, which I guess he had to do at the time”. There are those that believe that individuals such as Hoover and Dulles had something to do with the assassination, and this statement by JFK’s wife, shows the indifference he had with these two men.

Another person of interest in the interviews that came up, was the name Lyndon Johnson. Jackie felt that her husband tried many times over the course of his administration to involve Johnson with decisions, but that Johnson simply just agreed with everything that was being said. So instead of having a “yes” man, he would send him on trips around the world. One notable statement that Jackie makes about this, is something that happened in our current events today. As a new Air Force One was needed, Johnson pushed for JFK to order four more Air Force Ones, and that Moscow’s planes were much faster. In turn Jackie stated, “Jack wasn’t going to spend that much money for four new planes, and Lyndon kept pushing him to do it”. JFK did not give in to Johnson’s demands, and the rift between the two was growing to a point in which Johnson might be dropped from the ticket. Jackie explains that she did not think that JFK would drop Lyndon in 1964, but that JFK had stated to her, “Oh God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon was president?” Well the nation did get to see what would happen, and the effects of his presidency left a scar on the presidency that was felt for decades.

The book is a must have for any Kennedy collector, and the recordings are the most valued portion of the book. Within those CD’s, the voices of history are heard, and the protector of Camelot sheds light on the events before JFK’s presidency, during it, and what could have been after it. Jackie Kennedy believed that her husband would have gone around the world, written a book, or even done something with his library. Instead it was left to her to form the image and history surrounding her husband, and she was able to give the country that brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.

Advertisements

Time to Unite as a Nation

As we are about to enter into an important day in American history, read this quote on how JFK viewed days in which the country was divided and how we needed to come together for our nation. We don’t let elections divide us as a nation, instead we should come together as the new leader of the free world takes their place inside of the White House.

“For I can assure you that we love our country, not for what it was, though it has always been great — not for what it is, though of this we are deeply proud — but for what it someday can, and, through the efforts of us all, someday will be.” —

“Address at a Luncheon Meeting of the National Industrial Conference Board (33),” February 13, 1961, Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1961.

The Shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald

The video that shows Lee Harvey Oswald being shot and killed in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters. Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry stated in his book that the television crews were not in their assigned area and that they rushed towards Oswald as he was coming out. Clearly the video shows that camera crews were set up waiting for Oswald and their was no rush to the suspect.

Warren Commission likes to leave out witnesses..

It has become an almost everyday occurrence to find witnesses that the Warren Commission wanted to ignore. There are many individuals who were in Dealey Plaza on November 22nd, 1963, yet they choose to pick the ones that made their story fit. From the start, the Commission had to find a way to put Oswald in the building and at that window at the time of the assassination.  So they needed to place Oswald in the building at the time, and find a way for him to leave the building. When someone told a different story then the one they had predetermined, they would deem this individual as being mistaken. Today, I want to bring about the statements given by Roger Craig.

In the early afternoon of November 22nd, 1963, Dallas Deputy Roger Craig was standing on Main Street close to Dealey Plaza. As the shots rang out, Craig followed the crowd that was heading up the grassy knoll. He had seen an officer heading into that direction and decided to follow suit. When they arrived they searched the area and were unable to find anything up there. As he was walking  back he encountered Arnold Rowland who was a witness that claimed he saw a man with a rifle on the sixth floor. Not only did he see a man with a rifle at the southwest corner ( Oswald was supposedly at the southeast), he saw another man on the sixth floor as well. Mr. Rowland pointed this out to his wife, and he constantly looked in that direction before the motorcade arrived in Dealey Plaza.. More on the Rowland story in another post, because there is much more to that story then I can fit.

So Officer Craig, listens to the man give his account of the scene and directs him to other officers that are in the area.  About 15 minutes after the shooting, Craig hears someone whistle. At this time he sees a man, that is slender in build, looks to be in his early 20’s running towards a station wagon. Officer Craig gets a good look at this man that is running down the grassy knoll and tries to get the license plate number of the vehicle. His initial reaction at the time was that,why would anyone be running away, when it seemed everyone was running towards the situation. As the scene is unfolding in Dealey Plaza, Officer Craig is told to head into the Texas School Book Depository.  While on the sixth floor, it was him and another officer named Seymour Weitzman along with another officer that find the alleged rifle that was used in the shooting. When the weapon was found, they were told to leave it alone until the identification team could have a look at it. Upon looking at the weapon Weitzman described the weapon as a 7.65 Mauser rifle, and Officer Craig thought the same thing at the time. It wasn’t until pressure from the Warren Commission that Weitzman changed his story. His initial statement to Dallas investigators was that it was a Mauser and he knew weapons from being in the Sporting Goods business.

It was not until later in the evening of November 22nd, that Officer Craig is able to figure out who that man was running down the grassy knoll. He identified him as Lee Harvey Oswald. According to Craig, he went into Police Headquarters to talk to Captain Fritz about what he saw in Dealey Plaza. When told, Fritz and Craig went into the room where Oswald was staying and Fritz asked Oswald about the station wagon. Oswald was quoted as saying ” leave Mrs. Paine out of this, she had nothing to do with it”. A little side note, Ruth Paine was the woman who Oswald’s wife was staying with, and where his rifle was located. At the time, she drove a light green station wagon like the one Officer Craig had seen that day.

So here we have an Officer who sees a man he believes his Oswald about 15 minutes after the shooting, get into a car and take off. The final determination by the Warren Commission was that Oswald left the Texas School Book Depository after the shooting, got on a bus, but when the bus got caught in traffic he took a cab into Oak Cliff. When Oswald was arrested, he had on him a transfer ticket from the bus he was supposedly on. Before November 22nd, 1963, Officer Roger Dean Craig was an outstanding and decorated police officer for the city of Dallas. He was awarded the Man of the year award in 1960 for his work in a jewelry thief arrest. But once word gets out about his talk of Oswald being on the grassy knoll after the shooting, he is quickly ridiculed by his fellow officers. They simple do not believe his story, and he is eventually forced out of the police department by 1967. There were many threats made against his life in the following years, and following being shot at and injured, and driven off the road in an automobile accident, Mr. Craig decided to end his life in 1975. Until the moment of his passing, he believed that the man he saw that day was Oswald.

I am not going to say whether or not I believe this story, but it would be hard pressed not to believe a decorated police officer, who from day one stated he saw Oswald after the shooting. His observations and that of other witnesses fell on deaf ears to the Warren Commission and although he was called in as a witness, Officer Craig’s statements never made it to the final report. The final report will never be final in the eyes of many, and it is stories like this and witness statements from that day which keep this flame burning. I along with everyone else just want to know everything that transpired that day.

Sources:

John F. Kennedy assassination homepage. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.jfk-assassination.de/warren/wch/vol6/page260.php

Simkin, J. (1997, 09). Roger dean craig. Retrieved from http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKcraigR.htm