Dear Jim Smith – by M.J Suchecki

Dear Beachhead – by Charles Thomas


Dear Jim Smith,

I’ve lived in Venice since 1980. You and I spoke when I was covering the Venice Neighborhood Council for AOL’s Venice Patch. I’ve also written for The Argonaut.

I have to commend you for your lead piece on the Kennedy Assassination.  I was a kid when he was killed.  As a Boston Catholic he was  the epitome of our aspirations. My dad owed his justice department job as a prosecutor to the Kennedys. His career advancement died that day. Without knowing all of the ramifications, I was devastated, crying all the way home from early dismissal at St. Brendan’s School.

I was skeptical, but bought into the Warren Commission report. It wasn’t until years later when I worked as a field producer on “Cops” that I can to realize how wrong I had been.

I have four solid reasons to believe Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy:

On my day off from working in Ft. Worth, I stood in the Dallas book depository, and at the grassy knoll. I’m a good cameraman and a decent shot with a rifle. There is no way that I would have chosen the book depository as my site for the shooting. The target was moving down and away making the second shot more difficult. Years later when I shot Pope John Paul II in Poland I flashed back to Dallas. With my Nikon on a motor drive I got three good frames, the last images bigger than the first one. I had chosen a spot in Krakow akin to the location at Dealy Plaza, where the motorcade slowed and I had a bigger target.

Secondly, according to the Zapruder film, Kennedy’s head snapped back. Try this right now. Slap your own forehead with the heel of your palm. Which direction does your skull move? It’s one of the laws of physics. People don’t get shot from behind then move in the direction of the shot.

Thirdly, what did John Wilkes Booth say after he killed Lincoln, “Sic semper tyrannes”,  so always to tyrants. He had a point to make. In contrast, Oswald denied any involvement in the crime, he most famous quote was, “I’m a patsy.”

Finally, the case never went to trial. Jack Ruby silenced Oswald, so we’d never know the truth.

Like you, I’m convinced that the assassination was more than the work of a deranged, solo gunman. Thank you again, Jim, for an insightful article.

Best regards,

Paul M. J. Suchecki


Dear Beachhead:

Thank you for printing Jim Smith’s fine article in your November issue regarding President John Kennedy.  As so many of us remember, it was fifty years ago that JFK died in Dallas.  This is a profound time of remembrance, so I especially appreciated Jim’s article.

Besides print media, television has also been in on JFK’s remembrance recently with a wealth of programming.  Twenty-five years ago we had (of course) the “25th JFK remembrance” with a number of great TV specials.  These programs revisited the circumstances of the assassination as well as general retrospectives on the JFK presidency.  Twenty-five years ago, I tearfully sat before the TV and wept watching old JFK footage.  I was working a job back then for two guys who owned a business and it turned out they had been sitting in front of the TV, weeping a lot also.  They had been watching the same JFK “specials” and it came out in conversation that we had all been crying.  It took us by surprise that we still had emotional scars about the assassination.  Now, twenty-five years later I still sit in front of the TV with a lump in my throat.  Sure, there’s joy in remembering JFK, but I knew that the 50th “remembrance” which has been going on (as I write) for over a week now, was also going to be tearful by the TV.   (The new TV “retros” have been most interesting, as I knew they would be … but also sad.)

I have never accepted the loss of JFK.  I was ten years old when our school teachers called us kids in early from the school playground to tell us the President was dead.  I didn’t want to believe it.  I have never accepted it.  I could be more accepting if we really knew what happened that day in Dallas.  I can’t accept the “official” finding that Oswald was a lone killer.  It seems clear in the Zapruder Film that Kennedy’s head wound was inflicted by a bullet from the front (in the general direction of the infamous grassy knoll, not from the rear).  What do you make of the denial about that?  There are some who might ask, “How in the world could something as notorious as a second gunman be covered up and ‘swept under the rug’?”  To those, I say, “Hey, Daniel Ellsberg was ALMOST ‘squelched’ in his successful effort exposing the Pentagon Papers.”   Once the machine of government cover-up gets going, it can be damn fierce.  As to that day in Dallas, someone out there still “knows something.”

Twenty five years from now (on the 75th anniversary of Kennedy’s “passing”) I expect we will have another major television retrospective on JFK.  If I live to be 85, then I see myself, an old man, hanky in hand, sitting before the TV watching this event, my chin trembling.  There will never be another JFK.

Thank you again for sharing Jim Smith’s uplifting (and thought provoking) tribute to Kennedy.

Charles Thomas

November 22, 2013


Categories: Letters