Dal­las trib­ute to JFK, 50 years on

Na­tion pauses to re­mem­ber fate­ful day

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

DAL­LAS: Dal­las ob­served the 50th an­niver­sary of Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy’s as­sas­si­na­tion with its first of­fi­cial me­mo­rial as the rest of the na­tion paused to re­mem­ber the event that changed his­tory.

At Ar­ling­ton Na­tional Ceme­tery in Vir­ginia where Kennedy is buried, fam­ily mem­bers laid a wreath at his grave, where Jackie Kennedy and two of their chil­dren are also buried.

At dawn, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder made a gravesite visit to hon­our Kennedy, bow­ing his head and plac­ing a Jus­tice Depart­ment com­mem­o­ra­tive coin at the stone.

Holder then walked a short path to the grave of Robert F Kennedy, who had served as at­tor­ney gen­eral un­der his brother, bowed his head and left another coin.

A late morn­ing cer­e­mony in Dal­las, in­cluded mil­i­tary jets fly­ing over the city’s Dealey Plaza where Kennedy was shot.

The cer­e­mony started at 11.30am, to co­in­cide with the time that Kennedy’s fatal mo­tor­cade passed through packed down­town streets 50 years ago.

Pre­vi­ous an­niver­saries saw con­spir­acy the­o­rists who say there was a plot to kill Kennedy take over Dealey Plaza, de­nounc­ing the of­fi­cial line that Lee Har­vey Oswald acted alone and fired three shots at Kennedy from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book De­pos­i­tory build­ing.

“His death for­ever changed our city, as well as the world,” Rawl­ings said be­fore the an­niver­sary.

“We want to mark this tragic day by re­mem­ber­ing a great pres­i­dent with the sense of dig­nity and his­tory he de­serves.”

Dal­las was seen as a pariah city for years af­ter the 1963 as­sas­si­na­tion and avoided any com­mem­o­ra­tion.

That stigma started to fade decades ago, and now, The Sixth Floor Mu­seum in the for­mer Texas School Book De­pos­i­tory is one of the city’s big­gest tourists at­trac­tions.

“Dal­las came un­der a great deal of in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion.

“It was called the ‘City of Hate’,” said Stephen Fa­gin, as­so­ci­ate cu­ra­tor The Sixth Floor Mu­seum.

Amid the Cold War para- noia and sim­mer­ing racial ten­sion of the 1960s, a small but in­flu­en­tial group of arch­con­ser­va­tives protested against Kennedy’s visit to Texas, say­ing he was soft on com­mu­nism and should stay away.

In re­cent days, the city re­moved a large “X” em­bed­ded into the pave­ment by an un­known per­son or peo­ple that marked the spot on Elm Street where Kennedy was shot in the head.

The “X” had been seen as taste­less by many while the of­fi­cial ob­ser­vance – a small plaque on the plaza’s noted “grassy knoll” – had been crit­i­cised as in­ad­e­quate.

Thou­sands of books, news ar­ti­cles, TV shows, movies and doc­u­men­taries have been pro­duced about that fate­ful day in Dal­las and sur­veys show most Amer­i­cans still be­lieve in the con­spir­acy the­o­ries, dis­trust­ing ev­i­dence point­ing to Oswald as the sole killer.

Hugh Ayensworth, a reporter in Dealey Plaza 50 years ago, who wit­nessed the as­sas­si­na­tion and also saw Oswald shot dead by Dal­las night­club owner Jack Ruby, has spent a life­time in­ves­ti­gat­ing the killings and de­bunk­ing sus­pected plots.

“We can’t ac­cept very com­fort­ably that two no­bod­ies, two noth­ings – Lee Har­vey Oswald and Jack Ruby – were able to change the course of world his­tory,” he said. – Reuters


PAY­ING RE­SPECTS: Clint Hill, a mem­ber of the late First Lady Jac­que­line Kennedy’s se­cret ser­vice de­tail, Mayor Betsy Price, and Con­gress­man Roger Wil­liams place a wreath on the JFK Trib­ute out­side the Hil­ton Ho­tel yes­ter­day.


IN ME­MO­RIAM: A ban­ner of Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy is pulled into place as crowds gather in Dealey Plaza to mark the 50th an­niver­sary of his as­sas­si­na­tion.

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