“Our family is still suffering from the heartbreak caused by gun violence,” Caroline Kennedy said in giving a Profile in Courage award to former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords at the JFK Library on Sunday.
The unusual comment from the former First Daughter, who has rarely spoken in public about the death of her father in Dallas in November 1963, shows how painful and difficult the assassination story remains for the Kennedy family even a half century after the fact.
The enduring controversy around the causes of JFK’s assassination only compounds the pain and difficulty.
For a Kennedy to dissent from the official theory that JFK was killed by one man alone and unaided is regarded as newsworthy. Caroline’s cousin, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., generated headlines across the political spectrum in January when he told an audience in Dallas that his father did not believe the official story that his brother was killed by one man alone and unaided.
Caroline’s mother, Jacqueline Kennedy, also entertained doubts about the official theory, but only privately. A week after the Dallas tragedy Jackie Kennedy told a friend that she believed her husband was the victim of a “domestic conspiracy.” Jackie’s private belief in conspiracy remained unknown until 1999 when historians Timothy Naftali and Aleksander Fursenko wrote about it in their book, “One Hell of a Gamble.” In her public comments, Jackie Kennedy always endorsed the official story.
Caroline is not alone in her suffering. For all Americans, the pain of losing a president to gun violence is compounded by the pain of doubt about who was responsible.