Even a half century after the fact, Americans believe the murder of the 35th president was one of the four most important events in the nation’s history, according to a new Pew Survey. This despite the fact that more than two-thirds of all Americans were born after November 22, 1963.
Why does JFK’s death endure in the American imagination, even among young people?
One reason, of course, is JFK’s unique political appeal which combined conventional Cold War stance with a visionary “strategy of peace” that probably saved the world from nuclear catastrophe during the Cuban missile crisis. The beauty and strength of his wife and widow, Jackie Kennedy, is surely another reason.
But the continuing failure of the U.S. government to provide a plausible account of the crime is no small reason why Americans attach great importance to his violent removal from office.
Like the other three events cited by most respondents (Sept 11 attacks, Obama’s election, and the tech revolution), JFK’s murder had effects that are still visible today, notably the shroud of secrecy that still surrounds thousands of JFK documents that have never been seen by the American people.
Will President-elect Trump continue the JFK cover-up? No one knows but the Pew survey indicates that tens of millions of Americans will want to know the answer.