But with JFK’s assassination, we could never know if or whether the Southeast Asia tinderbox would have escalated into what became the debacle of the Vietnam War.
As history transpired, it was left to Lyndon Johnson to make those decisions. He would be opposed in the 1964 election by Sen. Barry Goldwater, icon of Republican conservatism, whom he portrayed as “trigger-happy” just months before he followed essentially the same course Goldwater proposed.
In another bit of irony, one of the soldiers in my unit was a former newspaper photographer by the name of Jeff Goldwater. By his own admission he was a distant relative of the presidential candidate.
The Kennedy mystique has continued over the decades. So has the family’s history of tragedy with another assassination, accidents, conspiracy theories, cancer and brushes with the law. Trouble in Camelot, it was dubbed.
Seldom in this country’s history have its leaders been more revered, reviled and revisited than the saga of John F. Kennedy and his family in the half century since his untimely death.
Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Thursday. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.