COLUMN: Oswald acted alone

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to CacheValleyDaily.com. His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees.

<em>“Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”</em>

—Benjamin Franklin

It rained heavily in Dallas, Texas on the morning of November 22, 1963. President John F. Kennedy gave a short speech that morning in neighboring Fort Worth—and he gave it in a drizzle.

Why is this important? Because when the president’s motorcade drove through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas at 12:30 p.m., it was sunny out. And when photographs of the scene were looked at, many wondered why a man was standing on the curb, seconds before the shots rang out that killed Kennedy, holding an opened umbrella.

This man, known as Umbrella Man to conspiracy theorists, has been the subject of wild conjecture for 50 years now.

Was he signalling the plethora of assassins to open fire? Was he a symbolic greeting card from the CIA telling Kennedy he was going to die for his failure during the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba? Or was the umbrella a James Bond-esque dart gun that aided in the death of the president?

Here is my theory on Umbrella Man:

When he left his house that morning, he took an umbrella with him because it was raining. He opened the umbrella when the president passed him by in full sunshine because sometimes people do illogical things for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

That’s it.

It has been 50 years since Kennedy was gunned down sitting next to his wife in an open car driving down a busy street in a major U.S. city. And many Americans still refuse to believe the one story that makes the most sense. That being a lone gunman with motive, opportunity and the necessary skills murdered Kennedy.

It is beyond most of us to conceive that the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, could be such a destructive force to such a dynamic man who was the leader of the free world.

Not that guy—a 24-year-old Communist who defected to the Soviet Union and was by every account an unlikeable loner. That’s impossible! Only the grandest of plots could destroy the mythos of the King of Camelot. And Oswald is not that.

I never believed the so-called “lone gunman theory” when I was younger. Like most people, this came off to me as a conspiracy involving the highest men in the most powerful positions. And then I did something that altered how I viewed this crime. I read books and watched documentaries.

I found out the “magic bullet” that killed Kennedy and wounded Texas governor John Connally was not magic at all. Kennedy was sitting in a raised seat above and slightly to the governor’s right. Every computer program that has tested the theory has shown it was easy for a single bullet to have the trajectory that was proposed in the Warren Commission’s report.

I found out Oswald was graded as a sharpshooter in the Marines. His second test marked him down, but his first rated him a great shot. And the rifle used in the assassination could indeed fire 3 shots in the time frame given. It has been tested over and over again.

I found out Oswald could easily have traversed the ground he walked from the time he left the Texas Schoolbook Depository to the moment he was arrested in the Texas Theatre after he murdered Dallas police officer JD Tippit.

And I also found out, much to my surprise, that I was a reasonable man who did not think somewhat suspicious circumstances equated to a conspiracy.

The Grassy Knoll? People may have seen a white puff of smoke and heard shots from there. But cars did park behind that fence and the shots could easily have been an echo. That area was visible to many eyewitnesses. No one saw a shooter.

The fourth shot? There was none. The “proof” of a fourth shot has been refuted by acoustic experts, eyewitnesses and the Zapruder film of the incident.

Jack Ruby killing Lee Oswald? Ruby was referred to by many who knew him as an emotional man. He had as much access to the Dallas police station as the reporters who clogged the hallways. He owned a gun. He was distraught. Like Oswald before him, he had motive and opportunity. He wanted to be the man that killed Kennedy’s assassin.

If I had 10 columns I could refute every single unlikely conspiracy theory that have never been proven and are based more on peculiar tidbits rather than hard facts. But allow me to suggest one more thing that tells me Oswald acted alone.

The Warren Commission—which was formed to make an official record of the event, and came to the conclusion Oswald was solely responsible for the murder—would have to had been made up of men who were all woefully incompetent at their job, or were all involved in a coup d’etat against the leader of the country in which they all served in the highest political and judicial offices of the land.

Does that really sound more logical than one man with a rifle and a desire to be a historical figure taking a shot from a window?

Oswald acted alone. He wanted to be famous. His disillusionment with his country sent him to the Soviet Union; and drove him to a failed attempt to gain entry into Cuba. He could not hold a job. He fought bitterly with his wife, whom he was estranged from. He had tried and failed to kill an ultra-right wing military general earlier in 1963. He was a failure at life…and John Kennedy was going to drive right by the building where he worked.

It’s that simple.

The collective psyche of the average American does not want to comprehend how insignificant people can have a profound impact on the world. It scares us to think everything we know and trust can be randomly taken away by such hideously pitiful creatures as Lee Oswald. We look for bigger answers to larger questions. We see powerful forces doing sinister, evil things—such as killing a president. Nothing is random.

And in that world we created, no one ever opens an umbrella without a damn good reason.

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