"From time to time, as additional classified documents are released, new fuel is added to a flame of mystery that seems to burn as eternally as the monument on President Kennedy's grave in Arlington National Cemetery."*
Random acts of violence can and will change the course of history. Was this the case 41 years ago when John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas? We may never know. We may never know if there were two assassins. We will never know what Oswald knew. We will never know, had Kennedy lived, what the outcome of Vietnam would have been. There are so many questions his death left unanswered.
It is the mystery that leaves us asking. How did a man, a poor marksman, an unstable mind, armed with a $12 rifle, bring down the prestige of what is now known as Camelot? For the average American, it is unimaginable that one man under those circumstances could have brought to an end an administration of talent, youth, and hope. In 2003, ABC conducted a poll---40 years later 2/3 of Americans felt there may have been a conspiracy involved with the assassination of Kennedy.
I've been to Dealey Plaza. You can't help but marvel at the intimacy of the space. You can't help but look to the 6th floor window and wonder how one man could have done so much. $12.78, the price of one rifle, the price of one moment, the price of one nation in complete turmoil, the price of one life...$12.78, the price of tragedy.
Conspiracy or not, the death of Kennedy changed our nation. Like the events of Pearl Harbor and 9/11, we were no longer invincible. We will never know what a second term would have done for this nation. He may have sent advisors to Vietnam, but would he have gone the route of his successors? Would the deaths of RFK and Martin Luther King followed?
When I think of all the questions, finding no answers, I think of how much Kennedy changed this nation. There was an energy in the White House that we'd never seen before. There was an interest in politics that we'd never seen before. There was so much hope. With him died the traditional ideology of the Democratic Party. With him died the truth. What was killed in Dallas wasn't just Kennedy, it was the hope driving a nation.
*Assassination: The Politics of Murder