In 1963, on this day at 11.40am Central Standard Time senior members of the Texas Democratic Party greeted Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline as they stepped off a private jet at the Love Field Airport in Dallas.
Tragedy in Dallas By Ed & Scott PalterRefusing to be trapped in the shameful anonymity of that private hell reserved for failed Presidential candidates, Kennedy had carefully nurtured his profile and status as a national politician. And therefore he was more than pleased to assist the Texas Democratic Party when they appealed for his charismatic assistance. Accordingly, he would shore up support for the 1964 elections by leading this campaign swing through the cities of San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth.
Unknown to the Party, and despite his radiating youthful good looks and general well-being, Kennedy was a desperately sick man. A lifelong series of medical setbacks had been crowned by a recent back injury that required him to wear a corset. The whole trip would be a miserable discomfort in which he would constantly suffer acute pain.
Neverthless, Kennedy had done much more than make the most of his remaining active years, in fact he had built a travelling circus, roaming around the country like King Arthur, creating a mobile Camelot if you will. Inevitably, he had become a victim of his own success, not just a campaigning spearhead for the Democratice National Committee but a focal point of opposition to President Nixon. And when Nixon cancelled the Bays of Pigs operation and disbanded the exiles, Kennedy's radiance had drawn that angered reaction like a moth to a flame, and he unwittingly became their champion in the Senate. Elevated from pin-up boy to advocate, Kennedy was now a moving target. And the worse fears of his family were realised when a former marine, Lee Harvey Oswald shot him dead in Dallas for his anti-Castro stance.
Within eight years, the wheel would come full circle. Even before the 1964 re-election of Nixon, Castro was himself killed during an abortive coup attempt led by Che Guavera. Faced with a long multi-sided civil war the Organization of American states with help from the US Navy landed Latin american troops to restore peace and free elections. Long before then, Raoul Castro had quit the island, leading one hundred thousand followers into exile in East Germany. And Nixon would be succeeed by President Robert Kennedy who would embrace this new administration by making the strategic decision to unlock Cuban economic potential by returning their biggest port, Guatanemo Bay.