There is one inescapable aspect of the Kennedy assassination that haunts and taunts. It was all so bloody damn easy.
Standing on the Grassy Knoll it was not hard at all to imagine a second gunman.
But that’s the story of the JFK assassination.
It’s easy to imagine just about anything.
On the day that myself and my wife visited Dealey Plaza (my in-laws were living in Dallas at the time) it was all too easy to imagine that sorrowful day in November.
For one thing, it was November. We were visiting for Thanksgiving.
It being Texas, November was more than a match for high Irish summer.
In the warm sunshine it was more difficult summoning up a sense of tragedy and doom.
But it was also a mirror image of that fateful day.
We spent time on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, just a short walk up Elm Street from the knoll.
The “sniper’s nest” was as it was on November 22, 1963, only now behind a glass screen.
It was also a coward’s nest.
Back on the knoll again I checked out what was behind the actual grassy slope on the part of it close to the Triple Underpass.
No doubt there have been occasional changes with the passing of the years but as I recall there was a hedge with access through a gap in it to a parking lot.
It would have been easy to discharge a shot at Kennedy’s limousine from here, then take just a few steps back and vanish.
If the gunman was a professional, it would have been ridiculously easy.
And that’s the thing. The killing of the president was all so ridiculously easy.
On Thursday, later in the day than the hungry media wanted, the National Archives, with a wave of an approving hand from President Trump, released a trove of papers dealing with the Kennedy assassination.
Not all the papers were released.
There is a six-month hold while the CIA and FBI go through all the rest, presumably making sure that there is nothing that might embarrass them.
The national security and compromising of investigation line from both sounds as believable as a three-dollar bill.
And they should be embarrassed.
Not based on all the conspiracy theories but based on the fact/assumption that it was just Lee Harvey Oswald and his mail order Mannlicher-Carcano rifle.
The Warren Commission report – the simple truth or the greatest door stopper of the twentieth century, depending on point of view – lays it out pretty simply, albeit in biblical proportions in terms of page count.
But, of course, he story doesn’t end with Oswald.
Lone gunman he might have been.
But lone player?
A short while ago, I read Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin’s book, “Mrs. Kennedy and Me.”
Hill was the Secret Service agent on the rear runner of the presidential car.
His primary mission was to protect Jackie Kennedy but, of course, he was duty bound to take the broader view in the critical moment.
You see Special Agent Hill in all the photos lunging forward after the first shot.
He heard the shot in his right ear. He didn’t hear the second shot. He felt the third as he was literally placing himself between the Kennedys and the fourth shot.
That fourth shot never came.
It would not have been necessary.
Hill believes in the lone gunman verdict and his gut instinct is to be taken seriously.
But an assassination is like concentric rings.
The actual act is at the very center.
And then there are the other close to inner rings, and the far outer ones.
On his road to Dealey Plaza, Oswald met many people, crossed many paths, went many places.
In broader investigative terms, the man was a corrupted crime scene, unlike the corner in the sixth floor, which is physically preserved.
As is Dealey Plaza, which is pretty much as it was beyond the changing height and shape of trees and other plantings.
Read more: Did JFK's Irish driver cause his death?
Of course, there was a second “lone” gunman in the affair. Jack Ruby.
The killing of Oswald was a match to a fuse for what has been a veritable conspiracy industry.
There is the Warren Commission report and the later report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
And then there are the countless books.
The latest release of papers will doubtless spawn more.
But regardless of the who, what, where, when, how and why, there is one inescapable aspect of the Kennedy assassination that haunts and taunts.
It was all so bloody damn easy.
And it shouldn’t have been.