He pauses and picks a collector’s item from the stacks: one of the now out-of-print volumes of Penn Jones Jr.’s tome about a conspiracy to kill the president, Forgive My Grief. Jones was a Texas newspaperman and one of the original JFK assassination researchers. One year after the assassination, he came to the grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza, where some witnesses say they heard shots fired that day, to hold a moment of silence. Judge joined him in 1968 and continued the tradition every year, taking over the ceremonies when Jones grew ill.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. By the admission of most of the assassination researchers (they hate the term “conspiracy theorists”), it’s also their last, best shot at reigniting a public debate about what really happened that day. “The 50th anniversary will really be one of the last opportunities to really get this out into the public domain,” says James DiEugenio, cofounder of the Citizens for Truth About the Kennedy Assassination. “I really and truly believe that the Kennedy assassination was quite epochal; it had reverberations down to present day,” he says. “What has happened over time is that cynicism and skepticism have seeped down into the public at large. It has caused a lot of serious problems about peoples’ belief in government and has splintered our society.”
Judge says, “We are passing into a post-historical era, and it probably is, maybe not the last gasp, but the largest last gasp of the issue.” It’s also the first year they won’t get to be in the plaza on Nov. 22 at 12:30 p.m.