Today is the 50th Anniversary of JFK’s assassination
50 years ago today, JFK was killed in Dallas. It’s up to you to interpret how or why he was killed. There are plenty of theories to choose from. Personally, I think here is more to the “Lee Harvey Oswald story” that we don’t know. I don’t think Oswald planned it on his own, though he may have actually done the deed on his own. I don’t know, a the time this occurred, I wasn’t going to be born for another 11 years. Anyway, I’m sort of fascinated by Kennedy’s assassination and the culture storm that has sort of erupted around it. I even visited the site of the assassination.
I graduated college in Summer 1997 and was sent to Dallas, TX for 7 weeks of training for my new job in IT consulting. While there, I decided to take advantage and visit Dealy Plaza and the Texas School Book Depository building.
A few friends of mine and I drove there and when we arrived we decided to drive the main street in front of Dealy where Kennedy was killed. Below is a picture out of the car window at the infamous fence on the grassy knoll (on the left) next to Dealy Plaza (white structure on the right). Our car is approximately where Kennedy’s limousine was when the shots were fired. Maybe even a little bit past.
After getting out of the car and walking towards Dealy Plaza, I stood where Abraham Zapruder stood and snapped a picture of the road Kennedy traveled and the Texas School Book Depository building looming in the back (brick building far left). In Zapruder’s footage there was a street sign on the road that blocked the view back in the early 60s. The street lamp in the very middle of the picture is the same one that is in the above picture.
I’m not going to lie, standing in Dealy Plaza and on the grassy knoll looking back at the School Book Depository building was surreal and a bit eerie. Lots of living history. So much happened. It just feels ominous standing there. My group of friends and I probably didn’t talk for like 10 minutes as we walked around.
After looking around a little bit we walked towards the School Book Depository building to get a better look. The Depository is no longer operating. It was bought by the state and is now run as The Sixth Floor Museum. Tours are offered. So we bought a ticket.
And I went inside to live some history. Here’s the actual entrance to the museum on the backside of the building. If you walk straight down that sidewalk you’ll run into the main road that leads to the right past Dealy Plaza.
Just inside the museum doors before you get into the museum proper is a giant mural of Kennedy in the Presidential limousine just before he was shot. I went to look at it and one of my friends snapped an impromptu pic of me. I wasn’t ready for the pic which is why I look like I’m not ready.
Pictures aren’t allowed once you are inside. I’ll just tell you, there are a lot of pictures from the time on display. There are several “to scale” models of the plaza with trajectories and mock ups of the actual shooting. They even preserved the corner on the sixth floor where Oswald shot at the President. It’s called the “Sniper’s Nest”. It’s well done and interesting to see, but a bit sad as well. And, like I said, it just felt ominous. I’m glad I went though.
After the museum I again walked over to stand on Dealy Plaza where Zapruder shot his famous footage and I walked again over to the grassy knoll to see where in 1963 there were possibly sharpshooters to help Oswald complete his task. Walking on Dealy Plaza was eerie and a little disquieting, but again, I’m glad I did it.
A few months later in early November, I visited a friend who was on assignment in Washington, DC. This friend was one of the guys who went to Dealy Plaza with me in Dallas. I was there to attend the Smithsonian’s Star Wars: Magic of Myth exhibit which had just opened the week before. While in the city we visited Arlington Cemetery and visited Kennedy’s final resting place. And the Eternal Flame.
I’m glad I was able to see both of these places only months apart. I still find myself fascinated with the investigations into Kennedy’s assassination.
To wrap up, here are a few of the things I’ve read and watched pertaining to this touchstone in American pop culture.
The Men Who Killed Kennedy – A British documentary that thoroughly examines the events surrounding the assassination and directly accuses Lyndon B Johnson as a guilty party. Originally aired in 1988 in the UK, it was added to and rebroadcast in the US in the late 90s by the History Channel which is where I recorded it onto VHS. For the most part, it is no longer aired, but you can still by it on home video. It’s actually a very engrossing documentary and presents a lot of convincing evidence of government conspiracy.
On the Trail of the Assassins – Jim Garrison – This is the book that inspired Oliver Stone’s movie, JFK. Which I would include in this list if I didn’t just now mention it. Garrison’s book delves a bit deeper into the details than Oliver North’s movie and gives a more complete story. Highly recommend.
11/22/63 – Stephen King – This is a completely engrossing story involving time travel and a “what would happen” scenario. King really delivers on this book, it is EXCELLENT. As a matter of fact it made my “Best Books I Read in 2012” list.