When it comes to researching and writing about the assassination, I am a very visual person. I actively seek out and like to include pictures in as many of my posts as possible. Images contain a life and message all their own. So often though, we as human beings gloss over visual information quickly. As an elementary teacher, I even witness this with my young readers. Children are so eager to read quickly and efficiently like adults, that they start abandoning the pictures in their stories. They ignore the photographs and pictures, opting instead to race through and finish. As adults we do the same. Efficiency runs our lives with nary a moment devoted to the mere act of looking closely at anything. So, from time to time, I will be combating this with a simple post of a photograph. I invite you to take some time to really see it. Take an actual 60 second long minute, and really look at the image. Let it bring questions into your mind. Reflect on the feelings it might draw out of you. Put it in its proper context as a moment in time, and not just as a graphic on a computer screen.
Today, I’m putting up a picture of a man holding John Wilkes Booth’s gun. I’ve seen the gun many times and this specific photo as well, but when I really take the time to see it, this image speaks to me: “This man in the photo chose to hold the gun. With or without prompting, he posed himself into an aiming position with it. This item was used to kill the President and this man is holding it centimeters from his face. His eye is drawing an imaginary line down its barrel. What does he see in its sights? How did he feel when he posed for this? Is the gun like a toy to him? Has he been around it so long that the impact of what it did has worn off? Or is he trying to get into the mindset of the man who pulled the trigger?…”
When you look at this picture, I hope it affects you in some way, if only for a minute.
August 10th, 1937
Edwin B. Pitts, Chief Clerk of the Judge Advocate General’s Office, poses holding Booth’s derringer: