A Viewing Reminder
For freaks like me, Monday is a High Holy Day.
I'm a self-admitted Kennedy Assassination freak, and I've been waiting for January 14th as if it were Christmas. A new documentary on the killing airs on PBS that night, entitled "Oswald's Ghost".
The documentary premiered late last year at the very Dallas movie theater where police arrested Oswald in connection with the killing of officer J.D. Tippit. It was only later that detectives realized that the guy who'd been acting so strangely as he ducked inside the movie house was also the same guy they'd end up charging in the Kennedy murder.
No matter which way you break on who pulled the trigger, there's no doubt about the historical significance of that day. Innocence didn't die November 22nd, 1963, but a really strong vein of skepticism about American government was born...one that is now approaching a rather robust middle age.
I'm not looking for "Oswald's Ghost" to change anyone's mind about whether he did it--personally, I'm convinced he acted alone, and regular readers of this blog are probably sick of me harping about it so I won't go all Warren-Commission on everybody and start doing frame-by-frame knockdowns of the Zapruder film.
What I'll be looking for Monday night will be context--what we were like as we woke up that autumn morning 45 years ago? What did people talk about over breakfast? What made their eyebrows furrow as they went through that morning's newspaper? What did they think of their president, their country, their world as they headed for lunch? And, how did all that change when they sat down to eat that night--if, indeed, they still had an appetite?
I was all of six years old--I remember the first Cronkite bulletin on "As the World Turns" as I headed back to another afternoon of first grade enlightenment at Sheridan Elementary in Sheboygan. I remember coming home that afternoon to find out Kennedy was dead. I recall the "Sheboygan Press" hitting the back step that night, and the huge headline which, at the time, served as official confirmation to my parents (television the had pictures, but in 1963 the "Press" made it true).
Kennedy died that day, but something else lives on. A lack of faith in government institutions. The fact that all of us--even Presidents--can be victims of the random act. An emptiness that comes from not knowing what would've happened to our lives if only that shiny covertable with the fluttering flags and the smiling, waving passengers had made it to that overpass without making news before it got there.
They all live on, thanks to "Oswald's Ghost."
("Oswald's Ghost" airs Monday night at eight as part of "The American Experience" on Milwaukee's Channel 10, as well as on TWC Digital Channel 510)