JFK files won’t tell this part of the story

We wept for Jackie and we wept for America and we knew that an era had come to a blistering end.

Contact Editor
Jack Engelhard,

Jack Engelhard
Jack Engelhard
צילום: מתוך האתר האישי

Everything happened so fast. First the news that our president John F. Kennedy had been shot. Only shot, not killed, so there was still hope.

Like this --

“Even rational minds presumed that no mere bullet was strong enough to bring down the most powerful man on earth, certainly not this president, so youthful, so handsome and so virile. He still had promises to keep.” – as we have it in the recently republished historical novel “The Days of the Bitter End.”

But our hopes were dashed when Walter Cronkite came back to report, “President Kennedy has died, 1 p.m. central standard time.”

We stayed glued to the TV; those of us at The Bitter End nightspot in Greenwich Village along with Americans everywhere and from that moment on we never stopped watching TV as if otherwise we’d be doomed. What’s next? Had Khrushchev finally delivered on his threat to “bury” us?

Who’s next? Is the rest of the government in immediate danger? Are we all sitting ducks? 

Nobody knew anything but everybody suspected everything. At the moment we did not feel like the most powerful nation on earth, instead, the most vulnerable.


We did not know that the discussion would last forever and that the suspicions would lead to inquiries and to millions of written and spoken words ...
We didn’t even trust the person next to us. Moments earlier we were a happy crowd waiting for Bob Dylan to take the stage. Peter, Paul and Mary had just finished.

Then it flashed that someone named Lee Harvey Oswald had been nabbed and arrested as the assassin. 

As the news of JFK was unbearable and unbelievable, this too was unbelievable. One man? One man could do all this? Three bullets? One bullet? Impossible.

We did not know that the discussion would last forever and that the suspicions would lead to inquiries and to millions of written and spoken words – nor that many years from now, some time in October in the year 2017, President Donald Trump would allow further secrets to be revealed about what really happened.

At the time we only knew this – we had all come to answer JFK’s call to express our creative vigor and to celebrate the glorious days of our youth, like JFK himself. 

We were here to unleash our creative powers and before 1 p.m., but 2 p.m. eastern standard time, I had already sketched out the novel but it was to be mostly about the way we were in the Village, in the 1960s, in nostalgic tribute to a particular time and place. Somehow I knew that this was our last chance at being young and that for one reason or another America would never be young again. 

I don’t know why I thought this. But I was right. We were all going to be great at something, mostly music for the rest of my crowd and only writing for me, and in my innocence-lost in that split second of news I knew the voice in the book would have to be changed.

A particular line kept running through my mind but I could not at the moment figure out what it was. Everything was happening so fast.  

Next on TV we saw a blood drenched Jackie on the airplane bitterly watching LBJ sworn in as president. We hated him on the spot.

We wept for Jackie and we wept for America and we knew that an era had come to a blistering end.

Then Oswald himself was shot and killed, by a man named Jack Ruby, all of it clear as day on black and white TV and we wondered if the entire country had gone insane. A week later the leading American columnist of the era, Arthur Krock, surmised that Kennedy himself knew the killer who’d be coming to get him.

I found that out many years later in my research for the book, a nugget that appeared in William Manchester’s “The Glory and the Dream.” 

I put that in my book knowing it would lead to further speculations, though to this day it feels awfully credible and definitive.

I would call my remembrance of things past pertaining to the 1960s “The Days of the Bitter End” and only in the writing did I find the line that escaped me back then while it was all happening. It was a line from King Solomon, and I used it as the theme for the entire book, as follows:

“So remember your Creator in the days of your youth – before the evil days come.”

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva. Engelhard wrote the international book-to-movie bestseller “Indecent Proposal” and the ground-breaking inside-journalism thriller “The Bathsheba Deadline.” His latest is “News Anchor Sweetheart.” He is the recipient of the Ben Hecht Award for Literary Excellence. Website: www.jackengelhard.com


 








top