COPA’s Last Stand - Dealey Plaza
The place is sacred, a pivotal crossroads where an X marks the spot in the middle of Elm Street where a man’s head was blown apart by a sniper’s bullet in an ambush at precisely 12:30 pm on Friday, November 22, 1963.
This is the place, the exact spot where John F. Kennedy met his fate, his rendezvous with death, where tourists visit and pilgrims flock, sometimes in droves, other times late at night when nobody else is around, but especially shortly after noon every November 22nd, when there is always a witness who returns, someone who was there and is drawn back to the spot like a magnet. To revisit the theater, to remember the moment when JFK’s life went dark.
Thirty years to the moment later they had a traditional moment of silence and played taps and then everyone drifted off and went on their way, back to their lives.
That’s where I met Gaeton Fonzi, tall and slim and humble, I recognized him standing anonymously quiet in the back of the dispersing crowd. I introduced myself and mentioned the name Alan Halpern, the Philadelphia Magazine editor who played a pivotal behind the scenes role in the big game. With his name Fonzi’s eyes lit up and we walked off talking.
Of Dealey Plaza Fonzi later wrote: “there is only a stillness there now, a breezeless serenity. On the right is the famous red brick building, flat, hard-edged, its rows of sooty windows now dull. In my mind, I dropped into a well of time and fell against that instant of history. A man was killed here. Here in, an explosively horrible and bloody moment, a man’s life ended. That realization – a man was killed here – had been oddly removed from the whirlwind of activity in which I had been involved. A man was killed here, and what had been going on in Washington – all the officious meetings and the political posturing, all the time and attention devoted to administrative procedures and organizational processes and forms and reports, and now all the scurrying about in a thousand directions in the mad rush to produce a final report – all of that seemed detached from the reality of a single fact: A man was killed here. I stood in Dealey Plaza….and could not help thinking that the powers that controlled the Assassinations Committee would have searched much harder for the truth if they had remembered that instant of time when a man’s life ended here.”
But the assassins’ bullets that struck down Jack Kennedy didn’t just violate his person and end his life - they also struck a severe blow to the very core of our nation’s constitutional body, a wound that won’t fully heal until the full story is told.
COPA’s Last Stand - @ the Grassy Knoll
After last year’s debacle, when the City of Dallas took over the Grassy Knoll, locked out the public and kept John Judge and COPA members from holding a moment of silence, this November 22nd is the 50th anniversary of when Penn Jones held the first moment of silence at the scene of the crime in 1964.
Now it’s our turn, since John Judge, as he tried to do every year, obtained a city permit for COPA to be at Dealey Plaza, and was hell bent to be there and hold a solemn and respectful memorial service that would be open to all and done with dignity, honor, respect and the truth be told, as Judge always said that this was a time to “speak truth to power.”
A true coalition, by definition, is established by a number of focus groups with different interests but a common goal, and we may all have different opinions as to who killed JFK and how they did it, but we all agree that the government files on the assassination should be open.
When the AARC and CTKA withdrew from COPA they left John Judge its director, and rather than fold, as they expected, Judge pretty much kept COPA together by himself, organizing the regional conferences in Dallas, Memphis and Los Angeles almost every year, and spearheading the establishment of the Hidden History Museum, all with the assistance of a few, select patrons – Dr. Wecht, Gene Case, Bob Danello, Frank Caplett and others who generously donated money to COPA – a not-for-profit but not tax-exempt organization.
Because COPA was or could be a political action organization, endorse candidates, sue the government – file FOIA and Civil action suites in the name of the organization – rather than subjecting an individual – i.e. Morley v. CIA – we could sue under COPA’s name and protect individuals from harassment and retribution. We were empowered by our association, some of which is detailed in A Brief History of COPA [ JFKcountercoup: A Brief History of COPA]
As usual, there are two separate and competing conferences in Dallas this November – one by Debra Conway and Lancer and the other by a Facebook group led by Judyth Vary Baker.
COPA has the permit for the Dealey Plaza event at 12:30 and it will be led by longtime Regional Dallas COPA members Robert Groden, Frank Caplett and Tom Blackwell, and be filmed by Randy Benson. Other COPA members may also attend from out of town.
Both Tom Blackwell and Randy have films of John Judge leading the moment of silence memorial service over the past years, and they should be reviewed to see how they did it, and see how it should continually be done by those who are there.
John usually began by describing how Penn Jones began the first moment of silence in 1964, a tradition that has been continued by John Judge, Blackwell, Caplett and others over the years and should continue into the future.
Beverly Oliver usually sings an appropriate song and a few short speeches are made [See: The Event that Didn’t Happen 1998] –
At 12:30, the minute JFK was shot in the head, all falls quiet for one minute – it has been suggested that this year the moment of silence last 50 seconds – one for each year.
One year they played taps and a Marine officer walking past me suddenly stopped, snapped to attention and saluted the Plaza flag while the bugle was being played.
Sometimes there is a sound system, and this year Alan Dale will supply one. I met Dale and had dinner with him one night during the AARC Sept. 2014 Conference in Bethesda. He’s a DC band leader who is comfortable in front of a microphone and served as the MC at the AARC conference and will do the same at the Lancer conference in Dallas.
There wasn’t going to be a Lancer conference in Dallas this year, and it was only after the AARC Conference in Bethesda in September that they decided to hold a short two-day affair that Larry Hancock helped organize.
It’s no secret John Judge didn’t like Lancer and Lancer didn’t like John Judge but John Judge is dead and Lancer is on its last legs – and may not put together another conference in Dallas, so there’s room to continue that tradition if that’s what the local Dallas COPA contingent wants to do.
Then they will resign to the local IHOP restaurant for lunch and decide on what the future of Dallas COPA will be. They have already voiced the opinion that they should host a conference or symposium to present the newest research and discuss the work of authors with new books on the subject.