Monday, January 6, 2014

The Watchman at Dealey Plaza

The Watchman at Dealey Plaza -
By William Kelly

                                 JFK with Military Aide Gen. Chester Clifton, aka "Watchman"

                        "Except The Lord keep the city, the  Wachman waketh in vain."

On the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of .President Kennedy the city of. Dallas commandeered Dealey Plaza to commemorate JFK at the scene of his murder, with Yale Scull and Bone Pulitzer Prize historian David McCullough reading excerpts of JFK's speeches, including the one he was supposed to be giving as he was being shot.

JFK was a classicist in that he was well read in the classics - Aristotle, Socratese, Plato, Sun Tzu, Macavelli and history, and while Ted Sorensen was given much credit for ghost writing his speeches, Kennedy wrote the gist of most important speeches and every word carried its weight in meaning and had his unique cadence and occasional lighthearted sense of humor.

Kennedy believed that knowing the lessons of history can prevent us from making future mistakes, and in retrospect, the mistakes of political leaders and generals led to the needless slaughter of millions of people who didn't have to die if the correct choices had been made by men of courage and honor.

Kennedy was well read because he could read a lot quickly, with a high degree of comprehension and retention, so much so that his techniques were studied  and marketed by Evelyn Wood and her husband. As one of their students I learned that one of the techniques was to scan over a page reading the first and last sentences of each paragraph.

Applying this technique to Kennedy's Undelivered Speech is revealing in a number of ways.

In the first part of his speech Kennedy alludes to his hosts  -  The Dallas Citizen's. Council, whose annual. meeting was used as a platform for the President after the original offer to give JFK an honorary degree from Texas Christian University, arranged by John Connally, was rescinded by the board of trustees.

The meeting was to honor the establishment of the Graduate Research  Center of the Southwest, that was formed by regional defense contractors to attract engineers needed to develop the next generation of jet planes, rockets, helicopters and radios - especially General Dynamics, Texas Instruments, Bell Helicopter and Collins Radio, whose founder Arthur Collins served as director of the GRCS.

Collins' company made and serviced the radios used by NASA, SAC and the SAM - Special Air Mission that included Air Force One.

"Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink; arise ye princes and prepare the shield. For thus hath The Lord said to me -  Get set a watchman ... And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen... and he answered and said, 'Babylon is fallen,'"    - Isaiah 21 -  5-9

Many of these major defense contractors were in the audience, Kennedy intended to direct his speech to them, and in part in response to the publisher of the Dallas Morning News, who told the president he was leading by riding Caroline's pony, and to make sure he got the message they were going to present him with a saddle for Caroline's pony at the luncheon.

In response Kennedy was going to tell them that we are the strongest, most powerful nation on earth, ever, and we were going to stay that way, but we shouldn't use that force like a bully just to get what we want. Rather, our power should be used with.wise restraint.

To conclude his speech JFK was going to say:

"We, in this country, in this generation are, by destiny rather than by choice - the Watchman 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 gimme, the ancient vision of 'peace on earth, goodwill toward men.' That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underline our strength. For as was written long ago, 'Except The Lord keep the city, the Watchman waketh in vain.'"

The city is Dallas and since they were fifteen minutes behind schedule, Kennedy was shot at the moment he was to give his speech, and as his blood ozzed onto the text of the speech in his jacket pocket, the Watchman was riding a few cars behind.

                           The original copy of JFK's undelivered speech, stained with his blood.

"Watchman" was the code name for General Chester Clifton, the President's military aide who would accompany the president's body back to Washington aboard Air Force  One, make arrangements for the autopsy and funeral in-flight over Art Collins' radios, and he would save a rare and unique tapes of the Air Force One radio transmission tapes for posterity to study.

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