A big thank you to our readers from the editorial team at OHN. Have a merry christmas and a happy new year. We leave you with an interesting and curious read, cross-posted from “War on the Rocks” – Enjoy!
THINKING HISTORICALLY: A GUIDE FOR STRATEGY AND STATECRAFT
Editor’s Note: This is adapted from the 12th Annual Alvin H Bernstein Lecture at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, delivered by the author on November 10.
On November 22nd, 2011, The New York Times published a short Errol Morris op-doc, “Umbrella Man,” to mark the 48thanniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. In the six and a half minute video, Morris employs his Interrotron camera to create his trademark intimacy while interviewing Josiah “Tink” Thompson, author of a book on the famous Zapruder film titled Six Seconds in Dallas. Backed by a haunting score arranged by minimalist composer Arvo Part and spliced with snippets of video from the fateful day, Thompson tells the mysterious story of a shadowy figure called the “umbrella man.”
Who was the umbrella man? During the Zapruder and other films and photographs from that fateful day in Dallas, an upright figure can be seen standing on the so-called grassy knoll, holding an open black umbrella, moments before the assassin’s bullets are fired into the president’s motorcade. The image is arresting: The weather in Dallas was sunny and warm.
The sight of a lone man under the umbrella would have been disconcerting even if Kennedy’s murder had not taken place right in front of the man seconds later. As Thompson says: “In all of Dallas, there appears to be exactly one person standing under an open black umbrella …. Can anyone come up with a non-sinister explanation for this?”
Writing in The New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town” series in December 1967, writer John Updike suggested the mystery surrounding who the umbrella man was and what he was doing on the grassy knoll “dangles around history’s neck like a fetish.” None of the authorities — the Dallas police, the Secret Service, the FBI, or the Warren Commission — ever located or even identified him or could explain his baffling appearance…