Friday afternoons at school were always the most fun because we would spend the last couple of hours daydreaming about the weekend. I suspect the teachers did the same thing because their zest for teaching seemed to wane as much as our zest for learning. Like Pavlovian conditioning, the piercing sound of that final class dismissal bell would always make us intoxicatingly giddy.
But not on Friday, November 22, 1963.
Shortly after lunch that day, we learned that US president John F. Kennedy had been shot while traveling in a motorcade in Dallas. It would be another hour or so before we heard the news that he had died.
We were in shock; the world was in shock.
Given the historic significance of Kennedy’s assassination, I am surprised that this week’s anticipated release of classified US documents relating to the investigation of this shooting hasn’t generated greater public interest. An act passed in 1992 (JFK Assassination Records Collection Act) allows for the release of approximately 3,000 undisclosed and 34,000 previously redacted files. The documents’ release date is slated for Thursday, October 26, 2017. According to the Act, only the President can veto their release. So far, there is no indication that president Trump will do that.
We know that conspiracy thinkers are champing at the bit, hoping that the soon-to-be released documents will corroborate their “grassy knoll” theories, some which are rather far-fetched and convoluted. It’s unlikely that the release of this last batch of classified documents on October 26 will reveal something new and earth-shattering about the JFK assassination.
Seven days following the JFK assassination, newly sworn-in president Lyndon B. Johnson formed the Warren Commission, which was tasked to investigate the assassination. The final report, released a year later, concluded that the gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, had acted alone in the assassination of president Kennedy.
It may surprise you but I have never agreed with this part of the Commission’s finding.
I base this entirely on forensic pathology.
As soon as president Kennedy was wheeled into the emergency room at Dallas Parkland Hospital, a team of trauma doctors and surgeons leapt into action. According to surgeon Dr. Robert McClelland, the back of the President’s head near the cerebellum had a gaping wound containing bits of bone and blood. Dr. McClelland believes this was an exit wound. This opinion was shared by Dr. Charles Crenshaw, another member of the Parkland surgical team. In fact, right until his death in 2001, Dr. Crenshaw asserted that president Kennedy was shot twice from the front, dispelling the lone gunman theory.
While there are some exceptions, it is commonly an accepted fact that exit wounds are larger than entrance wounds. Drs. McClelland and Crenshaw were top-notch trauma surgeons who had plenty of experience in treating patients with gunshot wounds and would thus have been able to correctly identify an exit wound with a fair degree of certainty.
Most of us have at some time seen the Zapruder home movie clip, which gives a 26-second visual account of president Kennedy’s assassination. The 8mm film is very graphic, particularly the frame that shows the President being shot a second time. But many of those who have viewed it share a similar opinion: the second shot came from the front, and not the rear of the presidential motorcade.
If this is true, then the Warren Commission was wrong and a whole lot of history needs to be revised.
Perhaps the October 26 documents will shed further light on this.
By Jon Netelenbos, Op-ed columnist