Peter Knight

in The Kennedy Assassination

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780748624102
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671199 | DOI:

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This chapter presents some concluding thoughts from the author. Over the four decades since Kennedy's violent death in Dealey Plaza, the event has been interpreted and represented in ever-widening contexts, but several themes have become constant. The iconic phrases and images that sum up the event — the grassy knoll, the sniper's lair, the magic bullet, the head-snap, Jackie scrambling over the back of the limousine — have become a kind of verbal and visual shorthand for a loss of faith in the authorities and the official version of events, and a more general sense of nostalgic grief for the demise of the promise of youth and idealism supposedly embodied by Kennedy. In short, the flashbulb memories of the assassination provide an instant iconography of the 1960s in general and the loss of an exceptionalist sense of American national destiny in particular. With the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the meaning of the Kennedy assassination has shifted once again. No longer is the death of JFK the most significant traumatic event for living Americans. If the news networks learned on the job during the Kennedy assassination how to cover a breaking story of major importance, then they had perfected the art by the time of the terrorist attacks.

Keywords: President John F. Kennedy; assassination; American national destiny; iconography; 1960s

Chapter.  1351 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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