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Oral History – JFK Assassination The Event: On Friday, November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as his motorcade traveled through Dallas Texas. Starter Questions: 1. Do you remember the JFK assassination? 2. How did you hear about it?…
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Oral History – JFK Assassination The Event: On Friday, November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as his motorcade traveled through Dallas Texas. Starter Questions: 1. Do you remember the JFK assassination? 2. How did you hear about it? 3. What were you doing when you heard about it? 4. How did you react to the news? 5. Did you see in real time the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald (by Jack Ruby)? 6. Did you believe the single assassin theory released by the “Warren Commission”? Subjects Interviewed: A. David Katz – 66 year old Chief Financial Officer B. Beatrice Zigo – 71 year old retired assembly worker C. Mary Costa – 86 year old administrator D. Muriel Auerbach – 56 year old bookkeeper Analysis of the Interviews All subjects had a clear recollection of the event. The youngest did not realize the significance at the time. She was 8 years old at the time. She remembers the sadness that enveloped the atmosphere. She was in third grade at the time and remembers her teacher crying as she broke the news. My next youngest subject was in college. He was about to take a “Western Civ” quiz when the professor announced the news. He can still remember his words. “Our president has been shot, the quiz is cancelled, go home and say your prayers.” Mrs. Zigo was unemployed at the time. She was at home caring for her children when she heard the news on TV. Mrs. Costa was at work when her boss announced the assassination. The behavior of all subjects was similar when they heard the news. At first it did not seem real. They were “going through the motions” for the rest of the day. The older subjects remembered how vibrant JFK was and felt a deep sense of loss. Most of the subjects did not return to a sense of normalcy until the televised funeral mass was over and even then it took them at least a week to somewhat get over the event. I asked the subjects if they saw the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV. They all did. They did not feel good about it. I then asked if they thought there was some kind of conspiracy. The two older ladies opined that “someone had to give the order”. I then asked if they believe the “Warren Commission”. They were somewhat vague on this issue. They now think that the “Warren Commission” report is probably correct and that a lone assassin was responsible. This event was certainly a turning point in U.S. history. I wondered if it affected their lives. The prevailing answer was only temporarily. Three out of the four subjects are predominately Democrats. One is a Republican. All four voted for JFK or would have voted for him if eligible to vote. The interviews led me to ask other questions. Going back to the effect on history the group had some interesting insights. One member had theories concerning the Viet Nam War. LBJ was the chief architect of the escalation. Had JFK continued in office the U.S. involvement may have been minimal? Then there was the Civil Rights movement. LBJ was also the president under whose administration the greatest strides were made. The war on poverty was another program championed by LBJ. Another effect was on the entire Kennedy family. Had JFK lived and served two terms, Robert Kennedy probably would not have run for president in 1968 and hence would not have been assassinated. All members expressed the opinion that before the assassination we lived in a kinder more gentle time. That people in this country was insulated from these types of violent events. It is my opinion that that observation is incorrect. History tells me that Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley were all assassinated. World Wars One and Two disrupted life in this country. During the interviews, I asked them to compare the feeling they had after the assassination and the events of 911. The results were intriguing. They all felt the same sense of sadness. Some equated their dislike for the south and Dallas in particular at the time of the assassination with their dislike for the perpetrators and Osama Bin Laden in particular who was the mastermind of 911. As we discussed this event, one person stated that it was the beginning of “instant news”. The assassination was televised as was the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald. Conclusions: It is exciting to communicate with people who lived through historical events. Reading about such events in history books is a poor substitute. First hand knowledge of an event brings history to life. My subjects have feelings from this event that has given me a new perspective on this event. The people I spoke with were more than happy to share their thoughts. They not only remembered the event vividly, but they remember their feelings and how they coped with the event and its aftermath. It is interesting to note that all members first felt shock, then sadness, and to some extent anger. It is unfortunate that we can no longer speak with people who lived hundreds of years ago. So if I am interested in events that occurred centuries ago, I will look for original letters from those who experienced such events. Works Cited Katz, David. Personal Interview. 8 May 2011. Zigo, Beatrice. Personal Interview. 8 May 2011. Costa, Mary. Personal Interview. 8 May 8, 2011. Auerbach, Muriel. Personal Interview. 8 May 2011. Read More
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