I just got back from Dallas! So fun. Loved the 80-degree weather in February!
Yes, I was there for a candy conference. Yes, I overdosed on sugar. Yes I have a great job.
Moving on, I got a chance to see the place where John F. Kennedy was shot. I confess, I forgot that happened in Dallas until the bus driver taking us back to the hotel from dinner said we could stop.
In a word, it was eerie.
I stood on the corner, and looked up at the brown book depository building and saw the window from which Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired those infamous shots. (The bus driver told us Lee Harvey Oswald’s gun still is kept up there for tours, although I did not have a chance to confirm that). Then, I glanced at the street, and pictured the car coming up the lane and the massive panic that followed. The infamous grassy knoll is now a reflecting pool and a monument, but it’s not hard to imagine the cheery parade crowd gathered there transforming into a group of shocked witnesses within the blink of an eye.
It’s a bizarre thing to stand where such a famous death happened. A death I’ve seen 1,000 times on TV and in old news footage but have no first-hand memory of.
I wonder what drew people to that parade that day. And how being a witness to such a tragedy changed their lives. I wonder if they could tell in the moment where the shots came from. I wonder if they instantly realized what was happening, or if, like with most sudden events, it took them a minute to process. I wonder what the people who stayed home that day thought when they heard the news. And I wonder how long it took for anyone in Dallas to be able to walk past that scene without crying.
In college I randomly ended up in a English class with a crazy teacher who thought the whole world was one giant conspiracy and so, of course, he was absolutely convinced that there was more to the JFK assassination than Lee Harvey Oswald.
And, instead of teaching us how to write, he spent the whole course making us study the shooting. Then, at the end of the semester each of use was forced to write a 15-page analysis of the situation.
I ended up putting the paper off until the last minute and because even I screw things up sometimes, I turned in a horrible analysis. I know. I know. Shock. Horror. Disbelief. Anyway, I guess it’s been long enough now and I’ve got myself a decent enough job these days that I can share with you that I got a D on that paper. Seeing as how people pay me to write now, I think everything ended well.
The thing was though, even though I put about zero effort into writing the paper, I do remember reading some of the background about the shooting, and I have to say, there’s a lot of strange stuff. If my college education memories serve me right, there’s discrepancies about Lee Harvey Oswald’s height, the eye witness reports were tainted by the fact that the eye witnesses had already seen Oswald on the news, and of course there’s the fact that Oswald was killed before he ever got to tell his side of the story.
So ya, I think maybe the JFK shooting might have been a conspiracy by the mob, the U.S. government, aliens or some combination of the three. (To be honest, I have some doubts about the moon landing too). (Seriously, why were there shadows in the footage, and where did the wind come from?)
Anyway, standing at the scene of the crime, right there in Dallas, Texas, I was hoping that I would gain some clarity about what actually went down. That I would suddenly see first-hand how it was all laid out and realize that either it must have been a lone gunman or that the assassination could have only happened if a group of people were firing shots.
Alas, I left more confused than I was when I started.
But I did leave with a different type of clarity. Staring at the spot on the street where the car was when the shot hit Kennedy, I suddenly felt the extreme significance of the event.
And it reminded me that death can happen at anytime, anywhere to anybody. All we can do is live our life so that when the final shots are fired, we can say good-bye without regret.