HAMMOND | Richard Van Orman, Purdue University Calumet professor emeritus of history and John F. Kennedy scholar, discussed the theories surrounding the assassination of the nation's 35th President during a program Tuesday sponsored by PUC's Department of History and Political Science.
Van Orman said the assassination of Kennedy is one of the most well-known topics in American history. He mentioned all the different theories behind Kennedy’s death, including those implicating the mafia, Lyndon B. Johnson or a Cuban or Soviet connection. He said a newer theory is that Kennedy was accidentally shot by a secret service agent who reacted after hearing an initial shot.
“Each one has a very strong disciple maintaining that the other views are just simply stupid,” he said. “This is an unending quest. An unending story. And it has its fascination of, ‘choose your side – which one did it?’ "
Van Orman played a tape from an interview he conducted years ago during a radio show in which he interviewed G. Robert Blakey, a Notre Dame law professor in the late 1960s who from 1977 to 1979 was chief counsel and staff director of the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations, which investigated JFK's assassination.
Blakey and Richard Billings co-authored the 1992 book, “Fatal Hour: The Assassination of President Kennedy by Organized Crime.”
Blakey believes Lee Harvey Oswald did in fact kill the president but that four shots were fired, one of which came from another shooter with ties to organized crime.
Van Orman said he personally is inclined to believe Oswald acted alone but is willing to listen to other theories.
Richard Hawkins, of Griffith, attended the event because he thought it might be interesting. Hawkins was in high school when Kennedy was killed.
“Not long after the Warren Commission published its findings, doubt was cast upon it by the print media in one form or another. All of a sudden you start saying, who did this?” Hawkins said. “What evidence supports either the Warren Commission or somebody else?”
Fellow attendee Victor Franco, of Hammond, was 19 when Kennedy was assassinated and believes there was a conspiracy and that “the government will not tell you the truth.”