OTHER VOICES: Americans should listen to Clint Hill

November 7, 2017 GMT

Clint Hill has gone over the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas more times than he can count. He’s found ways to deal with the guilt he’s felt for not being able to save the president.

Hill is the Secret Service agent famous for climbing into the president’s car, separating Jacqueline Kennedy from her husband and riding with them to the hospital on Nov. 22, 1963.

He’s mostly known for his time with Kennedy, but he also was assigned to Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Hill has written three books about his experiences in the Secret Service, but he authored them later in life.

In a “60 Minutes” interview in 1975 with Mike Wallace he talked for the first time about the assassination. He broke down after saying he held himself responsible for not saving Kennedy’s life. “If I had reacted about five-tenths of a second faster, or maybe a second faster ... I wouldn’t be here today ... I could have taken the third shot,” he told Wallace.

In “Five Presidents,” one of his books, Hill recounts how he carried that day in Dallas with him. “It would be nearly 50 years before I could recount the details of what happened in Dallas — not because I was sworn to secrecy or because I had anything to hide. The reason is simple: The memories were just too damn painful. To this day, every moment is still vivid in my mind.”

So Hill has a good perspective on the events that occurred in Dallas and afterward. The Trump administration’s recent release of assassination documents has renewed the public’s interest and reignited a variety of conspiracy theories. The documents cover everything from secret operations against Cuba, a U.S.-Mexico intelligence partnership, an interview with a prostitute to threats against Robert Kennedy. There are thousands of documents that would take anyone a lot of time to sort through.

Hill is convinced there’s nothing that will change his opinion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

“It’s just kind of sickening to know that people aren’t listening to reason or the facts. All these are theories, and there is no factual information whatsoever,” Hill told the Forum News Service. “They just quite can’t get it through their mind that one person could do all that, although, if they look at very recent history, they’ll find out that there was one guy in Las Vegas recently who did considerable damage all by himself.”

The Bismarck (North Dakota) Tribune editorial board thinks Hill’s right. However, there are many people convinced there was a conspiracy, they just can’t agree on which conspiracy theory to believe. Books and movies like 1991’s “JFK” by Oliver Stone add to the conspiracy fever. Stone created a story that seemed to put all the pieces together, but in the end it was a movie lacking convincing evidence. It was a box office hit and revived the controversy.

There will be more documents released after federal agencies get done cleansing them. The public shouldn’t expect to find a smoking gun.

Hill has relived the event for almost 54 years and wants to know the truth as much as anyone. He hasn’t found anything to change his mind. Hill was awarded a certificate of bravery for his actions on the day of the assassination. He has served his nation and presidents well. We should listen to what he has to say.