By INDIRA MOOSAI
Exactly 2,891 files on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy were released Oct. 26, and an additional 676 were released Nov. 3. While 88% of these government reports were released during the 1990s, that doesn’t mean these were the most important documents. The newly released documents may prove pivotal in understanding the full story of how events unfolded on one of the most tragic days in American history.
Public security is a valid explanation of why the government kept these documents from the American public. Particularly grief-stricken civilians may have taken it upon themselves to bring vigilante justice to JFK’s assassin. Others may have formed conspiracy theories with potential to spiral out of control. These all are dangerous implications with dangerous consequences. However, it should not have taken 46 years for these documents to be released.
Justice for JFK would be to let the public know the truth, maybe not immediately given the delicate circumstances, but within a timely manner. This means a lot less than 46 years later.
The day the JFK files were released, I had the opportunity to visit the Dealey Plaza in Dallas, a memorial dedicated to JFK. The memorial was picturesque. It looked like a miniature Colosseum with an American flag proudly waving above it. It was regal, clean, and seemed like a it came straight out of Washington D.C. In the moment I saw it, I felt prideful of America and its spirit. Dealey Plaza represented that even though America suffered a great tragedy, our strength and ability to keep growing as a nation was worthy of being recognized. It honors JFK while also projecting a philosophy he believed in.
A plaque at Dealey Park stated part of the speech he was to say at the Dallas Trade Mart. “We in this country, in this generation, are—by destiny rather than choice—the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, good will toward men.’ That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength.”
The saddening part of having this whole monument in honor of JFK is that it was made by workers who dedicated such time and effort into making it, when they didn’t even know the full story. For instance, when artists paint a painting, they think about the story behind what they are seeking to depict. For the Dealey Plaza workers, they did not know this critical information. Given that creating a whole monument takes a team of workers, such as designers and writers, it is clear that lots of people were invested in this monument. These were average citizens among us, and they themselves did not know the whole truth until now.
The coincidence of being able to visit this monumental site the very day the JFK files were released made me think of patriotism in a stronger light. The memorial reminded me of the strong sense of pride Americans feel. They genuinely care about our country, and though they may be angry about government and complications in politics, that sense of pride refuses to disappear. This spirit is an explanation in itself of why the citizens deserve to know the truth.
Withholding the full truth of a tragedy from the public is, in essence, a government-sanctioned lie. Coverups and secrecy lead the public to distrust the government, which in turn causes loss of respect. It is commendable that President Trump decided to release these documents; though JFK’s assassination was a long time ago, this may set a precedent for the future. When information affects citizens of this country, we deserve to know in a timely manner.
Indira Moosai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org