Today is the 40th anniversary of President John Kennedy's murder. One can speculate how different the 1960s would have been had JFK not been killed, just as one can wonder if Reconstruction would have gone differently had Lincoln not been shot (maybe) or if the Cold War would have been avoided had Franklin Roosevelt lived longer (probably not). But I cannot help the thought that Kennedy's premature death robbed this country of much of its optimism.
I had not yet been born, yet today I feel very deeply a sense of mourning. I think the country was substantively damaged by JFK's assassination, a wound which was re-opened and worsened by the murders or Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy in 1968.
For what it's worth, I firmly belive that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. None of the conspiracy theories, nearly all of which contradict each other, have been able to come up with the conclusive evidence (if you will, "the smoking gun") which would prove a conspiracy.
It's unfortunately true that JFK, like many people of note, hid a seamier side. But it's equally true that JFK possessed a rare wit, grace under pressure, and a cool headedness which got the country through perilous times. One shudders to think how George W. Bush would have handled the Cuban Missle Crisis.