The pain of doubt: Caroline Kennedy makes a rare allusion to her father’s assassination

Caroline Kennedy

“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.






13 thoughts on “The pain of doubt: Caroline Kennedy makes a rare allusion to her father’s assassination”

  1. Jackie hired French investigators to find out who killed her husband. She refused to change her blood stained clothes coming back from Dallas, saying she wanted “to let them see what they have done” and this was meant literally. She said it more than once, and said it fiercely. She knew from the moment it happened, “they” were responsible and she did find out. She married Onassis with the well known remark that the America was not safe for Kennedys and she wanted her kids out or at least have an option. I doubt anybody in the family ever believed the official part line, but if they disagreed they would have dropped off one by one, like over a hundred other “witnesses” who knew more than the “government” wanted them to know

  2. Hi I am from New Zealand and have recently watched the DVD…. JFK starring Kevin Costner, excellent movie….. We love JFK, how terrible his own government killing him and see putting up LHO

  3. Randel, I was also 6 when JFK was assassinated. I refused to totally believe he was dead until my mom told me. (We’re both Caroline’s age.) The deaths of JFK, MLK, and RFK hit hard. The sixties were really tough….Vietnam’s still an open wound for a lot of people. For some reason, this 50th anniversary of JFK’s death has hit me especially hard, maybe because over time I’ve realized just how many people wanted JFK out of the picture, and you can take your pick of any and/or a combo of things (or, the possibility that it was Oswald’s firearm alone, but I still think someone put him up to it). One thing’s haunting: JFK’s autopsy (initially done by Navy) and subsequent handlings/mishandlings have to make you wonder what in the Sam Hill happened–where was proper protocol, and why was he suddenly whisked away. I watched the Nova special w/ the forensics and the Neutrogena-type substance to simulate muscle and soft tissue. The forensic techs tried to show that Oswald’s firearm was the only one needed, and that both shots hit Kennedy from behind. It looked like something had hit him from the front, but since the autopsy was not done very well, it’s hard to say. I tend to think the way you do; that an entrance wound will be relatively small; the exit will fan out. The ER docs in Dallas maintained that JFK lost a grapefruit-sized area of the back of his brain. Now tell me this, Nova experts: how does a shot striking the back of JFK’s head cause that? Are we to believe that the ER staff was wrong?
    Anyway, I do get worried when I hear about how angry people get with politicians, and the blind hatred. If there’s anything JFK, MLK and RFK would want, it would be to work hard to improve things, keep moving forward, and to refuse to give in to hatred.

  4. Interesting…if LHO was the lone gunman, then why would one bullet go thru and thru (neck wound) while another shot blew off his head? The wounds themselves prove there were 2 different types of guns used.

    1. And even if Oswald was the lone gunman, why did Jack Ruby (Rubenstein, from Chi-town, w/ mafia ties) kill him 2 days later? Was it to keep Oswald from spilling the story? The assassination is rife with so many smoking guns, from accounts of people on the grassy knoll to strange men dressed like vagrants, yet who were clean-shaven to people working the ER claiming that a lot of the back of JFK’s brain was missing, which would make you think there was an entrance wound at the front of his head, and also the Connallys’ claim that there were 4 bullets fired. How was it possible for Oswald’s firearm to have discharged 4 in such a quick period of time? And the most maddening thing of all: we will likely never know the final truth of JFK’s assassination.

  5. I was a 6 y/o child in November of 1963. I have watched that Zapruder film probably hundreds of times since it’s original news programs showings. Even then I was sure that a shot was fired from the front and Jackie was trying to recover pieces of JFK’s shattered back of skull and brain tissue. It’s visual evidence that cannot be refuted. JFK’s skull was damaged from the projectile exiting the rear of his head. I’ve been a hunter from the age of 7. I know exactly how a bullet shatters bone as it exits but usually leaves only a small hole with crazes where it enters a skull. Deer, wild hogs and such have skulls about as thick as a human, maybe a bit thicker in a large wild hog. The same laws of physics apply. Of course other historical evidence points to a conspiracy. JFK made many politcal enemies both at home and abroad, but I think it was a home grown conspiracy that hatched the plot to place Oswald at his perch and at least one other gunman on that grassy knoll. I was shocked when John Kenndy Jr.’s plane went down. I had to think the conspirators who were still alive had something to do with this. JFK jr. would have soundly defeated George W. Bush in a general election with just the Kennedy cachet and his own personal charm. The Camelot vision still lives within a very sharp lady named Caroline. I will buy her a flak jacket myself. I love her like my own child.

  6. I think I have cared for what happened in the Kennedy assassination because of the pain caused to the families of the political assassinations of the 60’s . Men who were fathers and brothers were gunned down for their political beliefs and unfortunetly , these days we hear the same rhetoric concerning President Obama ; comments like ” he must be stopped ” , hopefully history will not repeat itself.

  7. I believe what Caroline is saying in her brief comments is that she is human and she hurts inside from what was done to her father.
    President Kennedy was buried just a couple days shy of her birthday. Brutal memories like that never dissipate, regardless if they are born into wealth or are poor.

  8. I believe Caroline Kennedy’s allusion was more about “gun control,” given the context of her remarks.

    Re: Robert Oswald. Robert Oswald is not all that he appears to be.

    According to John Armstrong, author of “Harvey & Lee,” Robert is not the biological brother of the individual Jack Ruby killed. Armstrong argues from documented facts that there were two Oswalds: LEE Harvey Oswald — the biological brother of Robert’s. And Lee HARVEY Oswald, a smaller individual, whom Robert came to know in the lat 1950s.

    Armstrong argues convincingly (I’ve not finished the book) the FBI did its best to obliterate evidence of the two Oswalds post-assassination, but that nonetheless such evidence crept into the W.C.’s 26 volumes.

    Cutting to the chase: Robert would have no problem selling Lee HARVEY Oswald down the river; HARVEY wasn’t his brother.

    Footnote: In her W.C. testimony, Ruth Paine refers to Oswald as “Harvey.”

  9. While they may not be evidence per se, the opinions of Kennedy family members matter, because they at least understood something about the atmosphere of hostility Kennedy faced and other “big picture” environmental factors that show how plausible a conspiracy might be. By the same token, while I lean to the conspiracy side, I do find it significant that Robert Oswald thinks his brother was fully capable of acting alone and did so. In the interviews I’ve read, Robert comes across as insightful and reasonable.

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