Posted by: Waheeda Harris | October 30, 2013

The presidential past

I knew a few facts about the assassination of American President John F. Kennedy, but I learned a lot when I was in the city of Dallas, the city where he died.

Dallas - JKF memorial

I woke up early and walked from my hotel in the morning sunshine to the JFK Memorial, a simple concrete structure designed by architect Philip Johnson and erected in 1970.

In less than 10 minutes I stood within the walls of this cenotaph, with the name of Kennedy inscribed on a granite base in its center.

Dallas - JFK memorial inscription

I slowly walked around the inside, hearing the city of Dallas awaken around me, as I thought about the style of structure and the legacy of a president.

I had also visited the Sixth Floor Museum, which details the facts and theories surrounding the death of Kennedy through oral history, photos and videos:

Dallas - Sixth Floor Museum

From the sixth floor of this former Texas School Book Repository building, one theory maintains that Lee Harvey Oswald, an employee of the building, shot the president as his motorcade sped by Dealey Plaza:

Dallas - Dealey Plaza

As visitors go through the exhibit, there is lots of information on the sequence of events on November 22, 1963 that led to the death of Kennedy  and what happened consequently – from the funeral of the president to the death of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby.

And my morbid curiosity also discovered that as Elm Street becomes Commerce Street,  the road that lies between the museum and the plaza, has an X marking the spot where Kennedy was shot (the pylon was incidental, due to road work):

Dallas - JFK x

And as I continued to explore Dallas, including the Dallas Museum of Art with its Rauschenberg celebrating JFK, I realized the lasting impact on the city as well as the country.

Dallas - DAM

For those of us who live in these young nations like Canada and the United States, reminders of the past aren’t as prevalent like it is for our counterparts in Europe and Asia.

In the city of Dallas, the numerous symbols of JFK keep his name alive for the future. And allow those of us who know little, to start learning more about President Kennedy and realizing his continued presence in the 21st century.

(Yesterday’s exploration of Dallas can be found here)

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