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American History: December 96 Letters

Originally published on Published Online: August 11, 1996 
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I am very disappointed that American History chose to print "Declassified" by Roger S. Peterson, regarding the investigationof the JFK assassination [July/August 1996 issue]. Mr. Peterson claims that new information has come to light from recentlyreleased documents but actually presents a rehash of tired and discredited conspiracy theories and "suggestions" with nocredible evidence whatsoever. In more than thirty years of trying, no one has come up with any credible evidence of aconspiracy or anything to refute the ironclad evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald did it and acted alone. But the conspiracymongers, helped greatly by Oliver Stone's movie JFK, have perpetrated a "big lie" and convinced a huge majority of the publicthat there must be something to it. To me the JFK assassination is the litmus test of intellectual honesty for historians, journalists, investigators, and allserious-minded people. If you buy into the "suggestions" of Mr. Peterson and the conspiracy theorists he quotes or the ideathat the assassination hasn't been solved, you fail the test.

Donald R. Beveridge
Evanston, Illinois

American History is to be congratulated for publishing Roger Peterson's excellent article on new evidence in the JFKassassination. I have spent many hours poring over newly released documents at the National Archives, and I can tell you withabsolute certainty that the evidence for a conspiracy and a government orchestrated cover-up has been established beyond areasonable doubt. Myself and several colleagues have found documented proof of FBI tampering with evidence.

Sadly, the vast majority of Americans will never gain access to this information because the mainstream media has simplydecided to ignore it. Mr. Peterson correctly pointed out one of the reasons for this–the too-cozy relationship that sometimesexists between editors, journalists, and the intelligence agencies. It is amazing that no major newspaper, magazine, or televisionnetwork has devoted any resources to pursuing these new leads. Instead the media prefer to fawn all over dishonest writerswho claim prematurely that the case is closed. Steven G. Jones
Landisville, Pennsylvania

The interesting article by Michael Haydock in your September/October issue stressed the enormous numbers of returningveterans availing themselves of the GI Bill. But there were other implications as well, some of which changed the nature ofcollege life forever.

Most returning GIs were quite serious about their education. We can imagine the reaction of a battle-hardened veteran, whohad frozen in a foxhole in Belgium or slogged through the jungles of the South Pacific, when a 4F upperclassman told him thathe had to wear a freshman beanie, or that he was forbidden to sit on a certain bench on campus. Here at the University ofCalifornia, there were several fistfights over issues such as these, all of them reportedly resolved in favor of the veterans. Thepre-war trappings of many trivial college traditions were to cease immediately, never to reappear.

Dr. John I. Thornton
Berkeley, California

There was no Riverside Park in Chicago, as mentioned in "Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower" [July/August 1996 issue]. Your authorwas referring to the city's Riverview Park on Western Avenue. I grew up within walking distance of Riverview, and as childrenand young adults, we all visited the park and enjoyed its many attractions. I recall standing on the ground looking up at the"Pair-O-Chutes" ride, as the people drifted downward to earth. I wasn't brave enough myself to try it and was much tooyoung. It was the tallest ride in the park.

Riverview Park was torn down many years ago, but those of us who remember her enjoyed a bit of nostalgia in reading yourarticle.

Betty Lans Kahn
Exton, Pennsylvania

In the excellent article "'The West' Revisited" in the September/October 1996 issue, the author made the point that many newlyfreed slaves sought opportunity in the westward expansion. The photograph on page 34, captioned "would-be emigrants . . .waiting for a steamer," may be a tad misleading, however.

The photograph of a group of African Americans on a piece of ground surrounded by water is in fact a photo of refugees fromthe 1897 Mississippi River flood. They are waiting for a relief boat, not a steamer to take them west. The meager pile ofbelongings would seem to support an emergency situation.

The photograph was taken by J. C. Coovert, who lived and worked in Greenville, Mississippi, in the 1890s. His collectedworks are held in the library of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. There is of course more than sufficienthistorical room to suggest that the group would have much preferred to head west rather than rejoin their difficult life in theMississippi Delta at the turn of the century.

William Jeanes
Troy, Michigan

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