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Reflections: November 22, 1963

by Walt Brown

Sometimes it seems that the longer I view the Zapruder film, or re-read the Warren Report, "the 26," or any of the critical literature, be it from the 60's or the 90's, the more I remain frozen in time, a sixteen year-old watching in slow motion as a father figure is ambushed.

Almost thirty-two years--well over a generation--have passed since the events of that otherwise cold, slate-gray New Jersey afternoon that has forever defined my universe.

Thirty-two years? Yes, almost; and inasmuch as there is no shortage of speculation about those "six seconds," it would be beyond pointless to speculate about "what if?" that day had been different. It might perhaps be better to step back and take stock.

We've gotten old, for one thing. It doesn't take a math whiz to figure out that a kid who was 16 on that day 32 years ago has tripled in age. Of course, everyone else has also aged 32 years, and that thought is often overlooked. Let's consider: JFK would have turned 78 in 1995, although given his fragile health as far back as his school days, it's unlikely that snipers' bullets kept him from old age. RFK would turn 70 next month.

It's hard to imagine those two vigorous people as "seniors" with gray, thinning hair, slightly stooped, and with the fire gone from their voices. It is equally hard to imagine that America has improved in their absence.

Marilyn Monroe, a year junior to RFK, would also be 70 in 1996; perhaps it's best to remember her as she was, and not like some of the survivors who have gone to seed. [I recently mentioned Marilyn's age to another "researcher," who commented along the lines, "Seventy next year? She's been dead half her life..."]

Lee Oswald would turn 56 a couple of days before the COPA conference, and although he looked older than his 24 years, it's difficult to imagine him being ten years older than JFK was when he died. Marina is 54 now, and a grandmother.

Will Fritz, Bill Decker, and Mary Bledsoe would have just about 300 years between them, with Fritz the eldest. The "kids" in the case, Amos Euins and Arnold Rowland, would now be in their late forties to early fifties.

Some people who had knowledge of the case never got old, as we know. For those of us who did, that moment so long ago is frozen in time, and we've made it an object of intense scrutiny, for to study it brings relief, where to try to forget it would only bring immeasurable pain.

In my own circumstance, I calculated that on March 9, 1994, I would be as old as JFK was on the day of the tragic motorcade. When the day came, I somehow carried the thought with me the whole day. But it didn't seem true. I could never be as "old" as that man bringing his hands up toward his neck in that beautiful automobile.

I just couldn't imagine that. So I keep studying.

Used by permission. All rights reserved. JFK/DPQ PO Box 174 Hillsdale, NJ 07642

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