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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

If this guy had gotten his way, there might not be a cottage JFK assassination industry today

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There were plenty of bad people doing terrible things on November 22nd, 1963 and Dr. Earl Rose is often portrayed as one of the worst.

Dr. Rose didn't kill anyone that awful day, but he almost started a fist fight in the corridors of Parkland Hospital right next to the casket of the freshly-slain President and his blood-stained widow.   What he did was first detailed in William Manchester's best-selling "Death Of A President" in 1967.  Other books followed, and few if any put him in a favorable light.   He's portrayed as a local Barney Fife, a low-ranking official with a bullet in his pocket looking to inflict himself on a national tragedy, the drama playing out as the dead chief executive's body was still warm.

His story is being told again as the 50th anniversary of the crime draws nigh.  Many of that day's key participants and bit-players have died.  Dr. Rose is one of the few who's still around, albeit unable to tell his story amid the ravages of Parkinson's, among other things.

Dr.Rose was the local medical examiner who, it turns out, was only trying to do what he thought was the right thing amid the chaos that followed Kennedy's assassination.   He insisted that the body remain in Dallas for an autopsy, and literally stood his ground as Secret Service agents were wheeling the body to a waiting hearse for it's return to Washington.   As the head of the security detail tried reasoning with Dr. Rose, Kennedy aides were a tad more blunt--they swore, pulled rank and cussed some more.  Dr. Rose corralled a nearby Dallas police officer to bolster his case--that the assassination, no matter how heinous, was in essence a local homicide requiring a local post-mortem.   Dr. Rose stressed that "the chain of evidence" needed to be kept intact, which meant keeping the body as close to the crime scene with a minimum of handling as possible before an autopsy.

Hard to believe, but in 1963 it wasn't a federal crime to murder a President and history will probably show that Rose was right.  It didn't matter--the Secret Service agents and frazzled Kennedy staffers prevailed.

You have to wonder how history would've changed if he'd gotten his way: no questionable Washington autopsy done by mal-qualified doctors who were in way over their skis.   Conspiracy buffs seize on their work as proof that the fix was in to frame Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunman, that the decision to move the body and let Bethesda Naval Medical Center was part of a larger plan to sanitize what happened and cover-up the larger plot to take Kennedy out of the picture.

If only Dr. Rose had gotten his way.

Then again, who's to say that HIS work wouldn't have been taken apart by those eager to prove Oswald's innocence and supposed government/Mafia/CIA involvement,   Kennedy's death was such a large crime that there will always be those among us who won't accept that it could be pulled off by such an inconsequential misfit like Oswald.   There HAD to be others.  Life can't be THAT random.

It is, though, and that's how a relatively obscure medical examiner landed a speaking part in one of the nation's great tragedies.   It's how Dr. Earl Rose almost changed the course of events and the way we process it today.  

 

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