IOWAN REMEMBERS: JFK Death Changed America

The date was November 22, 1963.  Right after lunch word began to get around, the President of the United States had been shot.  John F.Kennedy died of a gunshot wound to the head he received during an open-air car ride during a parade through downtown Dallas, Texas.

Des Moines resident Bill Sherman was a University of Iowa student teacher at Cedar Rapids Washington High School in 1963.  He asked his journalism class students to bring in newspapers with different accounts of the President’s death.  For the past 50 years he has studied the media coverage of the event.  He has also talked with authors of books on the event, and believes the accused shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald had an accomplice.  The Warren Commission concluded Oswald acted alone, however a 1997 Congressional study concluded there was most likely multiple shooters. Sherman is in the multiple shooters camp.

Sherman now gives lectures around the state regarding the media coverage of the assassination. He works in conjunction with the Iowa Humanities Board to book his talks. He has collected newspapers, political cartoons regarding the JFK death. Sherman credits the event for the way it changed America.

“For the first time television brought the nation together,.all  major television networks had continuous broadcast coverage for 4 days,” said Sherman America could participate collectively in the whole event.  That included the events in Dallas, and the funeral in Washington.

As a student at the University of Iowa, Sherman also helped the Waterloo Courier cover the Hawkeye football games.  The incident happened on a Friday, Iowa was set to play Notre Dame on Saturday.  Officials determined to go ahead and play the game, but when Sherman arrived at Kinnick Stadium, he learned the presidents of the two schools agreed about midnight to postpone the game.  It was never played, because the only time available was in December, and U of I officials did not want to interfere with finals.

There are also Iowa connections to the JFK Death.  Des Moines attorney, the late David Belen, served as legal counsel for the Warren Commission. The Commission was charged with determining who killed the President. Belen worked with Senator Arlen Specter on the effort.

Also, according to Sherman, Hugh Sidey of Greenfield Iowa was with the Washington Press Corps in a car in the motorcade. Another person Sherman has  connected to the event is Dr. Earl Warren. He was the Medical Examiner in Dallas and was set to do an autopsy on the body. It was instead taken to Washington for an autopsy.  Warren later  moved to Iowa City where he was on staff as a professor at the University of Iowa, according to Sherman.

 

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