Saturday, November 20, 2010

Six Seconds that Changed our World

In between yard work and painting the dining room (maybe I'll share before and after pics when it's done!), my husband and I had the chance to attend a very special event today. The event was a panel and book signing at the Sixth Floor Museum with the authors and collaborators of the recently-published book The Kennedy Detail.

Two of the panelists were Gerald Blaine and Clint Hill, retired Secret Service agents who were on President Kennedy's Secret Service detail for his Texas Trip. Blaine, who wrote the book with journalist Lisa McCubbin (also a panelist at today's program) was not in Dallas when Kennedy was assassinated, he was in Austin getting ready for the President's arrival later in the day. Clint Hill, however, was the agent who leaped onto the back of President Kennedy's limousine after hearing the first shot. (search the Collections on the Sixth Floor Museum's website for photos and videos) He has rarely spoken to the media about that day, in fact he has stated "I don't talk to anybody about that day... It is only because of my complete faith and trust that Jerry Blaine would tell our story with dignity and unwavering honesty that I agreed to be involved." The resulting book, The Kennedy Detail, is the first published account written by the Secret Service men who were charged with guarding the President's life on that fateful day.

It was a bit surreal to hear these men speak, especially Clint Hill, who is probably the most well-known Secret Service agent ever. The one thing that he said that stuck with me the most was that he came back to Dallas with his wife in 1990 - having never been back since 1963. He visited Dealey Plaza and the museum, examined the area from every angle and finally concluded that there was nothing more that he or the other agents could have done to protect Kennedy... that they had done the best they could have with the resources and manpower available. I think that realization probably helped him get past some of his feelings of guilt over the incident and finally move on with his life. Listening to these men talk was certainly fascinating and I can't wait to start reading the book! (which we were able to have signed by Hill, Blaine and McCubbins)

If this is a topic of interest to anyone:

* The book can be purchased on Amazon or at bookstore.

* Also the Discovery Channel has filmed a documentary based on the book (part of it filmed at the Sixth Floor Museum over the summer), which will air on December 2.

* Finally, today's program was filmed and will be broadcast on C-SPAN Book-TV at some point, though I haven't heard yet when it will air.

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