03 December 2011

Hopes and Shattered Dreams: Remembering Dallas

Eerie...this event that I've heard people talk about my entire life and now I'm here in the place where it happened. Forty-five years and there are still no answers. Some of the road signs are gone, others have changed, but overall Dealey Plaza is essentially the same as it was in November of 1963, the collonades, built by the WPA between 1938 and 1940, the wooden fence on the top of the grassy knoll, and overlooking it all, the old Texas School Book Depository. Some of the views have become obscured, the trees are 45 years older after all, but many remain. The 6th floor sniper's nest, now part of the Sixth Floor Museum, has been plexied off and stacked with boxes to give you the illusion that it is a place frozen in time.

Floors 5-7,Texas School Book Depository
Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll
There are X's painted on the street meant to represent where the car was when the President was shot. People, a large number of whom either weren't old enough to remember or were too young to really understand, wander out to the X's to touch them and/or have their picture taken. This is still a busy street and it's banked; cars come flying through the stoplight and down the hill.

Is this the event that shattered our innocence? Why this assassination? Three other presidents had been gunned down before him. How would the people's outlook on Vietnam and Watergate have been different had Dallas not happened? Would 9/11 have become the event that shattered our idealistic approach to government? Would the US have survived 9/11 without already knowing it could come through such a huge, collectively personal tragedy and still function? How can the next generations be made to understand the life changing impact caused by the death of one man?
The old Texas School Book Depository, home to the Sixth Floor Museum. You can see the open window in the sniper's nest, second floor from the top on the far right hand side.
Sidebar: The Sixth Floor Museum is worth a visit if you're ever in Dallas. They've done a nice job of setting the scene and taking you through the assassination and the aftermath. Prepare yourself before viewing the Zapruder film; there is a reason you can't just stumble upon it. Even though I knew what was coming and have seen edited versions countless times, I was still unprepared for the violence.

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