Monday, November 22, 2010

Dealey Plaza: 47 Years Later

Yesterday was the 47th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I had the opportunity to spend some time at Dealey Plaza to observe the impromptu "ceremony" that occurs there every year on November 22. I have to say, it was kind of a surreal experience... definitely different than I expected! I was greeted in the parking lot by a truck handing out Monster energy drinks (!?!) and there were lots of news and radio stations on site. Quite a few people showed up, but those who had attended in the last few years said the crowd was a bit smaller, though that is likely because for the last couple years the anniversary occurred on the weekend and this time it was a Monday.

Here are a couple views of the crowd, the first showing the Texas School Book Depository Building (now site of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza), where evidence of a sniper's nest was found and investigations found that Lee Harvey Oswald *allegedly* shot President Kennedy from the far window on the sixth floor.






I have to say allegedly, because the location and especially the anniversary causes the conspiracy theorists and demonstrators with signs and banners to crawl out of the woodwork. No matter how crazy the theory, there always seems to be somebody interested in listening, picking up a pamphlet, or buying a book. Below is a photo of one of the more popular conspiracy advocates and his elaborate presentation and spread of items for sale.


The man below believes that JFK's assassination and the collapse of the twin towers on 9-11 are both government cover-ups. And he was happy to explain his theories to anyone willing to listen. He was talking a news camera as I left.


I don't know the story with the man on the concrete column videotaping in the photo below, but I was able to observe that he was using the exact same Bell & Howell model video camera that Abraham Zapruder used to capture the assassination on film from the same exact location in 1963. The Zapruder film is the single most important piece of evidence in the entire Kennedy investigation and it is still the most important historic event ever caught on tape.

More people began showing up as it got closer to 12:30, the exact time that Kennedy was shot.



At 12:30 a moment of silence was *supposed* to be observed. I thought it would feel more meaningful than it did. The man with the microphone at the front had his own agenda (opening the remaining JFK, RFK and MLK records in the National Archives) and he went on about it forever, missing the 12:30 mark. By the time he finally announced the moment of silence several minutes later, hardly anyone was listening anyway, and it was only observed by some of the people there.

Some makeshift memorials did bring back the purpose of the gathering, however. Many people brought flowers and flags to decorate this little shrine.



I watched a man set this framed picture up minutes before the moment of silence, and afterwards he packed it up safely into a pillowcase... saving it for next year, I guess.




The last photo I'll share is this small white X in the middle of the road. It marks the approximate location of President Kennedy when he was hit by the fatal shot 47 short(?)...long(?) years ago.


To close, I'll leave you with this lovely quote:
Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions,
slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.
And however undramatic the pursuit of peace, the pursuit must go on.
- John F. Kennedy

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