Key Moments in History

And I Wish I Could’ve Been There

By Jeff Salter

This week we’re blogging about key events in American History which we wish we could have witnessed. I assume – based on the standard rules of “alternate history” – that we would NOT be allowed to change anything significant… but merely to observe or experience. [Therefore, my presence at either event could NOT have saved the lives of either principal figure.] I state that caveat because the two events I wish I could have witnessed were both horrible tragedies [and yes, I selected TWO].

Naturally, I believe nearly anyone would wish that aviator Amelia Earhart had not been lost in the Pacific on 7-2-1937 and that President John F. Kennedy had not been assassinated on 11-22-1963. But those two tragedies are also among the most studied, un-resolved mysteries of the 20th Century… and I’ve long been fascinated by both.

noonan-and-ae-java-1937

Fred Noonan, who met with my grandfather not too long before the fatal flight… and (of course) Amelia Earhart.

Earhart

I’ll begin with Amelia. I was fascinated by this female flyer and her ill-fated attempted to circle the globe with Fred Noonan long before I learned, from my mom, that her father KNEW Fred. Yeah. At some point, not too long before that final flight, Noonan visited my grandfather at his office — Willie Robinson was an important, quickly-promoted telephone company executive. Nobody knows what they talked about, but Mom believes it dealt with secret surveillance equipment. I think it’s more likely to have related to communications procedures or equipment, but we’ll never know.

Anyway, I wish I could have been present when their Electra (airplane) went down… so I’d know exactly where it was, and what happened to Amelia and Fred. The standard story was that they flew until they ran out of fuel and then had to ditch in the ocean. And, once in the water, both eventually drowned. However, there are too many stories of sightings of Amelia and Fred on various Pacific Islands. [Note, on Sunday the 9th (this week) History Channel has a new two-hour special on that final flight of Earhart and Noonan.]

I’ve read extensively on the subject and have long believed that one of the following OTHER fates – other than drowning in the vast ocean – awaited Amelia and Fred: (1) they were marooned on a tiny unpopulated island and eventually died there, (2) they were found by natives on a populated island and aided – as much as possible – until they later died from injuries or disease, or (3) that the Japanese military discovered them and their plane and held them captive on some remote outpost island in the Pacific.

So, had I been there – on 7-2-1937 – I would most assuredly have written an account of what I observed… and would have made every effort to get that word out to the parties who needed to know. Yeah, I know, we’re not allowed to change history and “save” Amelia and Fred, but at least the world would finally know exactly what happened to them.

john_f_kennedy

President John F. Kennedy, whom I saw in-person in New Orleans

Kennedy

JFK was elected when I was a month shy of age 10… and he was killed about two weeks before I turned 13. Under the rules of this conjecture, I would not have been able to save his life, but at least I would have been present to establish: (1) how many shots were fired, (2) where those shots came from, (3) who was at the grassy knoll and what were they doing, (4) how did that nearly pristine bullet end up on the hospital gurney next to Kennedy’s body, and (5) what was Oswald really doing at the time of the shooting.

We don’t have time/space to delve into it here, but suffice it to say that I do NOT accept the conclusions of the politicized Warren Commission. Furthermore, it staggers the imagination that there are uncountable documents and evidence which were sealed shortly after the assassination and deliberately withheld from the public for a period of many decades. With an event of this magnitude, I believe the public’s “right to know” outweighs whatever the privacy concerns were of the individuals named in those documents. Having that key information sealed for all these years has directly contributed to the legion of conspiracy theories – some decidedly wild – which have since developed.

Since JFK’s election and sudden tragic death occurred during my formative years, it had a huge impact on me. I’ve read extensively on the assassination and still don’t know WHAT to believe about Kennedy’s actual assassins (or their reasons). Mafia? Cubans? CIA? Russians? Texas oil cartel? Isolated cabal of high ranking Pentagon officers?
Who knows. And we’ll never know unless all the files are released and made public.

If I were allowed to be there as a witness – remembering that I’m not allowed to PREVENT the killing – I would most assuredly nail down a lot of the elusive “facts” and let ya’ll know what I observed.

By the way, thought I never MET Kennedy, I did SEE him when he visited New Orleans… just a few months before his death, I believe. He was WAY far in the distance on a podium and I was one of many thousands in the gathered crowd. But I did see him.

Question:

What event in American history do you wish YOU could observe or experience?

[JLS # 339]

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About jeff7salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Twelve completed novels and five completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015, "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015, "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015, "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014, "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014, "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014, "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014, "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013, "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013, "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013, "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012, "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012. Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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20 Responses to Key Moments in History

  1. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I’m hoping that I remember to watch TV on Sunday evening because I want to watch the Amelia Earhart documentary on the History Channel! I’ll have to add it to my list. It would be nice to have that mystery solved.
    As for Kennedy, I was in third grade when he was killed. I’ll never forget the announcement the principal made over the school intercom. I remember the aftermath, too, and how sad everyone was. And then the questions. Where? How? And most of all, why?
    I’m sure your hound dog instincts would have kicked in to answer all those questions!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      The JFK killing hit me hard almost from the beginning. My parents were polarized about him and his family — my dad thought he was terrific and really liked the fact that we had a president who was about my father’s own age (instead of some old fogey)… however, my mom resented the Kennedy clan and their ill-gotten wealth and power.
      Another tie-in to my little town of Covington LA. We learned (within a day of the assassination) that Oswald had briefly lived in our town and had attended the very school where we were at the time. Seriously.
      One of my college history professors did a LOT of research on the killing and his published book was one of the dozens I have read.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad to know about the documentary on Amelia Earhart. When I was in grade school, I LOVED biographies and checked out almost everyone we had at our school in Malaysia. One of my all time favorites was, and is, Amelia Earhart. Perhaps it’s because my middle name is Amelia, or maybe it’s because she was such a vibrant woman who broke society’s norms that I loved her so.
    What ever the reason, I too have been fascinated by the mystery and plausible explanations for what happened to her and Fred.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      yeah, she definitely did NOT fit the “accepted” mold of that era. I believe she married that media tycoon mostly to be protected from the public’s preoccupation with how she “varied” from their norm. Of course, she was talented and courageous… but she was NOT a great navigator and her actual piloting skills were nothing spectacular. They made an unfortunate decision to continue that journey after a crash in one of the other islands. But so much media attention and public pressure, they pressed ahead… basically unprepared for that vast expanse of Pacific waters.

      Like

  3. I’ve always been fascinated with Amelia’s story. With this new photo surfacing, it really breaks my heart because someone might have been able to save her and Noonan if they had been captured. Though, I could be incorrect. I do wish we could know what truly happened to her.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Joselyn says:

    I just saw a FB ad about the new photo of Amelia and Fred. Their mystery is very interesting.

    This spring I watched a bunch of videos about the JFK assassination. If I believed the LHO was solely responsible before watching them I don’t now… unless JFK wasn’t his target. I believe there is a new book speculating that Connelly was actually his target because he refused to undo (not sure if that’s the right word) Oswald’s dishonorable discharge and Oswald could not find employment or something because of it. Interesting. One I watched about Johnson’s motives was fascinating as well. There was also a good one explaining the ballastics and how the shots were possible. What always stands out to me is Jackie’s strength.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      Jackie is certainly an interesting figure. She felt like — and was treated as — an “outsider” to the tight Kennedy clan. Yet she was ever conscious of the Kennedy legacy and truly wanted her kids — one or both — to assume the mantle and ascend to political power.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I hope to watch th special on Amelia. I read an article about it and saw a photograph.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don;t see how anyone can accept what the Warren Commission ‘concluded’. Don’t get me started on that one. You don’t have to be any kind of a conspiracist to observe the holes in it; in fact, you rather have to be one to buy it all.
    It is unfortunate what happened, whatever happened, to Amelia Earhart. I sincerely hope that her tragically early end was swift.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      me, too. Though there are some proponents of the theory that the Japanese military keep her and Noonan prisoner and subjected them to the same type harsh treatment they used on the other civilians who got in the way of their imperial aims of that era.

      Like

  7. jbrayweber says:

    Oh gosh…this is a tough one. There are so many pivotal moments in our history that I would have loved to bear witness to, not to mention unsolved mysteries. Off the top of my head, I would have liked to have been in the room when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House bringing an end to the Civil War. It had to have been hard for both men involved. I think I would have liked to have witnessed the sheer determination, pride, and duty in the face of defeat at the Alamo. Those men may have lost and died but they changed Texas forever.

    Great topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      yes, both those are awesome moments.
      I’ve read a detailed account of that meeting between Grant and Lee… and (as a kid) visited the Appomatox courthouse.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. jbrayweber says:

    Oh…and how cool is that to know your grandfather knew Noonan. Hopefully, I will catch the documentary this weekend. The evidence they have uncovered is very compelling!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I would have liked to have been with Linus Pauling when he discovered his polio vacvine worked. Having friends of the family as well as classmates who were afflicted with the disease it would have felt wonderful to know that polio could be conquered.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Vaccine not the typo!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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