from home news tribune: Just as the date Sept. 11 will jar memories between now and the end of the 21st century, the date Nov. 22 still stirs memories for a generation old enough to have watched Ed Sullivan introduce the Beatles, Walter Cronkite give up on Vietnam and Nixon swear he was not a crook.
Our culture changed when it was reported that "shots were fired" in Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. And we know where we were.
Every six years or so, the anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy falls on Thanksgiving. Nov. 22 is also Robert Groden's birthday. Today he will turn 62, and will spend much of today like the rest of his days, joining other conspiracy buffs near the grassy knoll, selling products that explain his version of the assassination.
"I work in Dealey Plaza every day," he explained.
Groden was living in the Fords section of Woodbridge, working as an industrial photographer, when his life was changed. He was working on an assignment with Life Magazine to examine the Zapruder film, the most famous home movie in history, which shows in gruesome detail the shots that killed Kennedy.
Groden has since written 11 books on the assassination, testified before the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978, and worked as a consultant on "JFK," the Oliver Stone movie. He has his own Web site, www.jfkmurder.com.
I met Groden when he came to the office of the News Tribune in Woodbridge to show the Zapruder film before it appeared on American television and met him again two years ago when my family visited Dealey Plaza. His theory: Oswald had plenty of help.
Groden does not cotton to those of us who believe the less-sexy theory, that Oswald acted alone.
This week the movie "Oswald's Ghost" was shown to a packed house at the Texas Theater in the Oak Hills section of Dallas, the theater where Oswald was arrested the day of the assassination. The movie, to be shown on PBS Jan. 14, explores the growth of the conspiracy industry, of people like Robert Groden.
Groden's review: "'Oswald's Ghost' is a horrible, horrible piece of crap."
When I mentioned the book by Vincent Bugliosi — the former Los Angeles County district attorney and author of books about O.J. Simpson and the Manson family — Groden dismissed Bugliosi with even stronger language. Allowing how the Bugliosi book, "Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy" is 1,612 pages long, Groden called it a "good doorstop."
"(Bugliosi) mentions me about 80 times and 79 references are inaccurate, and that's just me," said Groden.
Groden also dismisses the work of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, located in the old Texas Book Depository. The museum allows tourists to sit in Oswald's sniper nest while giving no credence to conspiracy buffs, who have become an embarrassment to some in Dallas.
Jacquielynn Floyd, a columnist for the Dallas Morning News, wrote this week, "Too often, on Nov. 22, people have gone to Dealey Plaza in a genuine and respectful spirit of remembrance, and have found an embarrassing, exhibitionistic carnival... the date has become a high holy day for conspiracy cranks, a swap meet for oddballs to peddle their strange obsessions."
Groden acknowledges there are "goofballs who lay down on the X" that marks the spot on the roadway where the fatal shot was fired into the JFK motorcade. What he welcomes are the people with the serious questions, the people who, he said, "don't buy for a minute" the notion that Oswald acted alone.
Recently, he said, a woman from England, with tears in her eyes, hugged him and thanked him for his work.
I asked Groden about the cottage industry developing 9/11 conspiracy theories. Just as it's hard for many to accept that a lone punk killed Kennedy, others don't accept 9/11 as the work of 19 well-organized and motivated punks.
Groden, who said he used to work on the 96th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center, said he has steered clear of 9/11 conspiracy buffs. Though he does encounter these buffs at Dealey Plaza, where he will spend his birthday today.
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