Frequently Asked Questions - 3

DC: What are some of the most interesting statements you found?

CC: Oh—I could cite the most obvious ones, like Howard Brennan, Roger Craig, Ed Hoffman, Gordon Arnold, or even Jean Hill…but I won’t. Just off the top of my head, I’ll go with Robert Croft, June Dishong, and Peggy Hawkins.

Robert Croft, an amateur photographer, took only four stills, but his third one, taken standing quite close to Phil Willis on the corner of Elm and Houston Streets, is one of the best photos I’ve seen. And although he was never questioned by any investigative body or law enforcement agency, his entire account is chronicled in Richard Trask’s Pictures of the Pain. As a general rule, I don’t rely solely upon uncorroborated statements, but Trask is an exception to this rule; his work—especially Pictures of the Pain—is an essential resource.
June Dishong is interesting because she immediately wrote her impressions down in a journal. And while she never drew attention to herself or her experience, she also didn’t shy away from discussing it with her family; so, not only do we have her written account, we also have corroborating details from those with whom she spoke (Dishong died in 1998).

Peggy Hawkins piques my interest because there are still so many unanswered questions in the wake of her one interview with the FBI. We still don’t know whether it was her or her husband who worked for Allyn and Bacon Publishing Company in the TSBD; why she never met up with her husband, John, to watch the motorcade, as she planned to do; why John wasn’t interviewed by the FBI to determine if he watched the motorcade, despite not meeting up with his wife; and why Hawkins failed to mention she was standing with her four-year-old son, John, Jr.

DC: Are there witness statements that just can’t be resolved?
CC: Unfortunately, yes; just as there is physical evidence that can never be recovered. The most obvious reason for unresolved statements is when an eyewitness dies; another is the effect time has on a person’s ability to recollect details. But just because some accounts can’t be resolved with a high degree of certainty doesn’t mean they are without merit or evidentiary value. As historians, we have to resign ourselves to the fact that not all history can be recovered, not all questions can be answered; but that should never deter us from the pursuit.

Page 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6