Where history happened: Hospital treated Kennedy
Parkland Hospital, which was founded in 1894 and will soon move to a new facility, will never be able to leave behind its tragic history. Nor is it trying.
On Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally arrived at Parkland’s emergency room after being shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was later brought to the hospital after being shot himself. He died Nov. 24 in an operating room.
The emergency room unit where Kennedy was pronounced dead is now part of a radiology waiting room and bears a simple bronze plaque. It states: “Original Site/Trauma 1/November 22, 1963.”
The hospital also maintains a museum wall on its first floor that contains a more elaborate plaque marking the events now a half century in the past. It’s a replica of the Nov. 27 memo that Parkland Administrator C.J. Price wrote to the hospital staff.
Price’s memo begins by noting that Parkland was the temporary seat of government for the U.S. and the state of Texas as Connally recovered. It was the site where the 35th president died and 36th president assumed office. And it was where the president’s “accused assassin” died.
When Parkland moves across the street to its new facility, the site as well as the plaque noting its place in history will remain behind. A spokeswoman said the rooms that once commanded the world’s attention will continue to serve as auxiliary medical space for the hospital.
But the museum wall will move to the new facility. “What is it that enables an institution to take in stride such a series of history jolting events? Spirit? Dedication? Preparedness?” Price asked in his memo.
“Certainly, all of these are important, but the underlying factor is people. People whose education and training is sound. People whose judgment is calm and perceptive. People whose actions are deliberate and definitive,” he wrote. “Our pride is not that we were swept up by the whirlwind of tragic history, but that when we were, we were not found wanting.”
Top: Parkland Hospital opened for business on its current site on Sept. 25, 1954. It has been serving the Dallas community since 1894.
Above: A letter to employees from then-Administrator C.J. Price discusses Parkland’s role in history on Nov. 22, 1963.