John F. Kennedy had an Irish fatalism about himself and often expressed it. But as far as being killed in office, he thought it would help ensure a lasting, positive legacy. That’s what some previously unreleased interview tapes will reveal.
JFK privately confided to his close friends that he knew assassination was a real danger and decided not to worry too much about it. “If someone was in a high building and shot at me, there’s nothing anyone can do about it” he was heard to say more than once.
Secret Service agents have revealed since his death that he uttered that sentiment during his fateful trip to Dallas in November, 1963.
But new tapes recorded by Jackie Kennedy months after his death show his thinking went even deeper than that. After hearing a White House lecture about the Lincoln murder, Kennedy asked the speaker, distinguished Civil War historian David Herbert Donald, if Lincoln’s legacy would be so well-remembered if he had lived longer. “Probably not,” said Donald. Because he would have had to preside over the Reconstruction Era which proved to be very divisive.
The response caused JFK to brood about the prospects of his own legacy. After his successful handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, he privately remarked to his wife, “If anyone’s going to kill me, it should happen now.” A little over a year later he was dead, struck down by an assassin’s bullet.
The interviews will be released in September, and they contain a wide-ranging amount of personal information about the Kennedy marriage and their life during his Presidency. It’s going to be very interesting to hear what Jackie felt about their brief time together so soon after the terrible tragedy which took her husband’s life. 50 years after JFK took office, it’s possible we may learn a few new facts about one of our greatest Presidents who is mainly remembered with reverence, despite his human failings. Will those revelations help to ensure his legacy even further?
Only time will tell.
Image courtesy of Irish Central