The 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, on November 22, 1963, is just around the corner. I have come across multiple statistics recently with polls from Gallup, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, as well as CBS news reporting that a majority of Americans believe Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin, did not act alone. While multiple conspiracy theories will of course be presented in the coming days, I will be disgusted once again. President Kennedy was a martyr of the cold war; an unstable, young, Marxist acted alone in murdering him in cold blood.
Unfortunately, when I discuss the event with others, especially other young adults, it is almost a given the peer believes in some type of conspiracy theory. My generation, unfortunately, does not seem to know any kind of history on Oswald. They see Oswald as just an American citizen who was set up or paid to kill. Oswald was a United States Marine who was a troublemaker while enlisted and was eventually discharged. Quickly thereafter he defected to the Soviet Union, and after not fitting in brought his Soviet wife and newborn back to the states. Coming back to the states left Oswald still a radical Marxist, and was paranoid that the government would do whatever it could to ruin his life.
Lee Harvey Oswald lived a life where it was obvious he wanted to be seen as important. From most accounts he consistently thrived to be in the spotlight. When the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred Oswald saw an opportunity to stand his ground. He believed that the Cuban’s communist system needed defending; he was infuriated when he learned that the United States embargoed Cuba. He decided to assassinate US Major General Edwin Walker, who was an outspoken anti-communist and segregationist; Oswald was on the opposite side of the political spectrum. No one knew, at the time, who attempted to assassinate Walker, but thankfully it was a failed attempt. Later, once an investigation was carried out, the government claimed evidence strongly suggested he was the attempted assassin.
Oswald also carried out a lot of other questionable acts, like visiting the Cuban and Soviet Union embassies in Mexico, to receive a Cuban visa, and was left disappointed. He was buried in paperwork; he was told it would take months before he would be able to get a visa to Cuba. He returned to Texas and learned of a job at the infamous Texas School Book Depository. After working there for just over a month he learned that President Kennedy would be passing by in a motorcade just outside the building.
The rest is history.
That day this country lost not just our president, but a father and husband. President Kennedy was assassinated for no good reason. Oswald was a troubled young adult who decided to make a point by assassinating President Kennedy, who actually aligned with most of his social views at the time. Jack Ruby’s eventual murder of Oswald was unfortunate; many conspiracy theories would have quickly been debunked, but we are now left with uncertainty. That day, although sad, was a triumph for democracy.
A smooth transition to President Johnson was a slap in the face to the Soviet Union, and proved that this country could withstand tragedy. Oswald may have assassinated our leader, but he could not assassinate our country. The United States was able to carry on with their policy on Cuba, and also continued to operate, for the most part, as if President Kennedy were still alive.
Regardless of one’s opinion on the assassination, one must admit the smooth transition was not an aspect Cuba nor the Soviet Union could withstand. The United States fair democratic elections and economic system reigned superior.