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.
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.
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.
What event in American history do you wish YOU could observe or experience?
[JLS # 339]