Monday, June 12, 2017

Reliving a Terrible Day in History - Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas

The flight to Love Field was flawless and on time. Hertz did a fine job getting us a car quickly, this one a Nissan Rogue, which would fit Tim's new folding power travel chair very easily in the rear hatch. The on board GPS (free for AAA members) routed us straight to our hotel, Homewood Suites in Arlington, just west of Dallas.  We just had to deal with some rush hour traffic, a lot of road construction, and potholes before we arrived.

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Checking in, we find that the hotel did not hold the accessible room we guaranteed. In fact, their records show we didn't book an accessible, 2 queen, suite but my printout of my confirmation puts lie to that.

We sleep in the non-accessible room, which has a bathroom that will just not do. In the morning, a conversation with the manager finds us moving to an accessible suite that became available.  
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I really don't like moving after already being in another room and I don't like it when the hotel doesn't live up to it's end of the bargain either (Hilton gave us another 10,000 points in our loyalty account for compensation when I complained).

Enough of our hotel follies...

Tim usually has a place he wants to see when we're in a town.  It might be the Reichstag in Berlin or the Olympic Stadium in Munich or Alcatraz in San get the idea. Yes, we are ostensibly here for baseball (the Rangers are hosting our Halos - we'll get to that in another post) but Tim also want so see Dealey Plaza.

Tim also likes to try the rapid transit systems of each city he visits so we drive 15 miles to the nearest DART light rail station (as opposed to the 16 miles it would be from our hotel in Arlington to Dealey Plaza).

Once we find the station, it's an easy ride into Union Station, about 2 blocks away from our destination. Union Station is pretty but also pretty quiet and dead. A fairly easy 5 minute walk takes us up to the plaza.

We have to navigate through hordes of school field trip kids along the sidewalk as we make our way to the infamous 'grassy knoll.' I'm skeptical but I hope these kids grasp the immense significance of the spot they're standing at. No one has ever made an attempt on a president's life in their entire existence and hopefully never will. I imagine this must be an abstract, long ago, historical fact for them.

Of course, on November 22, 1963, president John F. Kennedy arrived at Love Field in Dallas to attend a luncheon in his honor. The motorcade was planned for maximum exposure so the crowds could get a look at their president. The president opted not to have the protective 'bubble' on top of his limousine.

Around lunchtime, the procession turned left into Dealey Plaza. Shots rang out and the popular president was dead.

Two X's mark the spot on the road where the bullets hit him...the first, a wounding shot through the neck. 

The second, the deadly kill shot in front of the concrete pergola wall where dress maker Abraham Zapruder stood, capturing the whole thing on his home movie camera.

Behind the pergola sits a parking lot with an inconspicuous wooden fence separating the two. Many have theorized that a second gunman set up behind it to shoot the president. A quick walk over and I can see the conspiracy theory graffiti on it advertising websites to learn more about their views of the assassination.

Of course, the main (lone?) gunman was set up 6 stories over the corner in the Texas Schoolbook Depository. That building is now a museum, focused on the events of that day.

We get tickets and wait half an hour for our turn to take the elevator up to the 6th floor where a walking audio tour takes you through the election of Kennedy, his presidency, his visit to Texas, the assassination, and it's aftermath. A glassed-in corner shows where Lee Harvey Oswald set up his sniper's next to shoot the president.

It's all a sobering reminder that with great power comes great personal risk.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

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