Conspiracy theories still abound

Published 9:41 am Thursday, November 21, 2013

It’s funny how you can’t remember where you put down your car keys, but can easily recall events that occurred a half century ago.

For those of us over the age of 50, we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing in the early afternoon hours of Nov. 22, 1963.

I was 10 years-old, a fifth grader at Woodland-OlneySchool. My class was in the midst of practicing a play in the school’s auditorium when one of the teachers, Mrs. Doris Litchfield, came in crying. She was the one that broke the horrible news….President Kennedy had been assassinated while his motorcade rolled through downtown Dallas, Texas.

I don’t remember crying, but I recalled being frightened….scared of the unknown. Was this the start of an even more cynical attack on America, especially in the wake of all the tension between the USA and Cuba/Russia during the first few years that Kennedy was in office?

Then there was the murder, two days later, of Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Who was responsible for sending Jack Ruby in to silence Kennedy’s killer? Was this part of a broader plan? There were too many questions and not enough answers.

My dad, a World War II veteran, felt that way and I trusted his judgment.

In the days that followed, we all mourned the loss of a popular president. Through the magic of television – that median was growing more popular in the early 1960’s – we had become intertwined with President Kennedy and his beautiful young family….wife, Jackie; daughter, Caroline; and little “John John.” TV placed us on the front lines, as if we were there…attending a press conference; or sharing a meal or a family outing at the beach with the Kennedys.

We gathered around our TV sets on Monday, Nov. 25 to watch the funeral of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I still vividly remembered the dull beat of the drums as the funeral procession made its way from the White House, then to the church, and finally to Arlington National Cemetery.

Now, 50 years later, many of us who recall the events of Nov. 22, 1963 still believe Oswald, and perhaps Ruby, did not act alone. There are about an equal number of conspiracy theories as there are words in this column. Nearly all have no documentation to back-up those assumptions.

I’ve watched countless TV shows on the assassination; and read pages and pages of material. Among my favorites on the subject of the Kennedy assassination is 70-year-old Dave Perry, a former insurance claims adjuster living in Dallas. Since 1976, Perry has made it his passion to find the truth about Oswald…..did he have help?

Perry has ruled out the Cuba/Russia angle, based on the fact that those two communist countries would not have been that bold to start a nuclear war with the U.S. had it been proven they were involved. He also found no truth to the rumor that organized crime (aka The Mafia) had Kennedy killed.

The one conspiracy theory that Perry can’t debunk involves the CIA. It’s a known fact that Kennedy knew the CIA was planning to assassinate Fidel Castro and had threatened to cut off funds to the agency.

In a recent interview with CNN, Perry made another interesting connection, saying that the former head of the CIA, Allen Dulles, was a member of the Warren Commission, the one appointed to probe the assassination. That Commission concluded Oswald acted alone.

It’s also a known fact that Oswald was in the Russian Embassy in Mexico City just a few weeks prior to killing Kennedy. Perry said it was possible that Oswald was on the CIA’s payroll, perhaps playing both sides as a double agent.

Whatever the case, many Americans of that era strongly believe Oswald didn’t act alone.

How do you feel….and where were you on Nov. 22, 1963? Email me at and share your thoughts.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. 

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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