June 10 & JFK’s Legacy
Members of COPA – the Coalition on Political Assassinations held a small ceremony at the JFK Monument at American University at noon every June 10th from 1991 until last year 2015, though that tradition has ended, others are marking the June 10th date as a major crossroads turning point in history.
As I was there at the conception, I can tell you that the idea for such a ceremony began at one of the first COPA meetings at the old Quaker meeting room on Capitol Hill. It was there, during a recess lunch at the nearby Hawk & Dove bar and grill where it was read from a newspaper that the Kennedy family would prefer that President Kennedy be remembered for his life and achievements and not on November 22nd, the day of his death.
Indeed, most presidents and famous personages are remembered on their birthdays, and not the day on which they were murdered, but JFK stands out as a thorny exception. We don’t remember him on May 29th, the day he was born in 1917, one hundred years next May, but instead remember him every November 22nd, a fact that the Kennedy family had called attention to by asking people to recall JFK for his life, his policies and achievements, and not his murder, the still legally unresolved homicide that remains a mystery that can and will be resolved to a legal and moral certainty.
With the plea from the Kennedy family to honor JFK on a day other than his death, we sat around the Hawk & the Dove bar and came up with June 10th – the day JFK delivered his “Peace Speech,” said to be the most important speech of his administration and the one, some say, that got him killed.
Around the same time we were considering using June 10th as a day to honor JFK, Soviet Premier Mikael Gorbachev visited Dallas. Gorbachev, who personally saw to the end of the cold war, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet control of Russia, visited Dealey Plaza and met Bob Groden, who gave him a copy of his book, and then went up to the Sixth Floor Museum, where in the Visitor’s Note book he wrote a note that called attention to JFK’s June 10th 1963 speech at American University.
By 1991 there were a number of things happening, besides the forming of COPA, the release of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK that stimulated people to press Congress to pass the JFK Act of 1992. American University sponsored a one day symposium on cinema and politics, and a panel member had backed out and my COPA associate John Judge was asked to fill in and did some admirably.
John Judge’s response to Dan Moldea’s suggestion that the Mafia killed JFK is a classic that when cablecast on ESPN immediately got COPA support, and caught the attention of Diane Reim, the NPR radio interviewer who broadcast from American University – who had John Judge and Col. Fletcher Prouty do a nationally syndicated radio show on the air.
Since the graduation is now held earlier than June 10th, the class rooms and dorm rooms were available, so we held a one day mini-conference the first year when John Newman and Dan Alcorn each gave short lectures, and a dozen or so of us stayed overnight in the dorm rooms.
Over the ensuring years, the numbers of those attending the June 10th event varied from a half-dozen to a dozen or more, and lasted only an hour, during which anyone there would take turns talking about JFK and reading a line or two from one of his speeches.
June 10th 2002 was special because one of COPA’s members flew in from London to attend, and Lance and Randy Benson came by and filmed much of it, and afterwards we went to a National Press Club event on 9/11.
Randy’s film “The Searchers” is without a doubt the best documentary film on the subject of the researchers, and he was there when I was, so I can attest to that fact.
The JFK Memorial Plaque is situated at the west end of the football field, where the graduation ceremony was held outdoors, and the plaque is set where the makeshift stage was set when JFK was there. It reads a quote from the speech and recognizes its significance.
After spending an hour or maybe a little more there, we would agree to meet somewhere close for lunch, usually less than a mile or so away, and it was there we would hatch plans for what we thought should b done.
It’s sad for me now, so many years later, to look over that list of items – such as - get Congress to hold oversight hearings on the JFK Act, something that still hasn’t been done.
And now, many years later, while COPA does not hold their annual June 10th ceremony at the JFK Monument at American University, CAPA is now continuing COPA’s role, and maybe it will continue some of its traditions, like honoring JFK for his policies and administration on June 10th.
Continuing this identification with June 10th as a significant time Jeff Morley has used the date to publish his new ebook – on the Secret CIA Assassination records.
And we have started a new organization - CAPA - Citizens Against Political Assassinations to take up where COPA left off, and we may resume the June 10th ceremony at American University next year, which will also be JFK's 100th birthday on May 29 and the release of the still withheld JFK Assassination records on October 26.