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Feature Stories

Remembering JFK in Dallas

Cindy Richards, Editor

Remembering JFK in Dallas

It's one of those iconic questions that mark a generation: Do you remember where you were when JFK was shot?

Chances are most Americans who were alive at 12:30 p.m. Central time on Nov. 22, 1963, remember exactly where they were and what they were doing, even though it's been 50 years since that fateful day.

It all happened in Dallas and the city is gearing up to mark the somber anniversary.

The building that served as the perch for assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, formerly known as the Texas School Book Depository, is now called the Sixth Floor Museum. The museum offers a thorough and moving recap of the events before, during, and after the murder of President John F. Kennedy as he rode in an open convertible past Dealey Plaza.

You can stand next to the spot where Oswald stood, looking out the window while listening to a historical recap narrated by a mellow-voiced reporter who covered the chaotic scene.

The journey through the museum begins with an exploration of the culture of the times, the political climate in Texas, and the president's plan for his visit. It builds to the shooting, then catalogs the immediate aftermath, the shooting of young cop J.D. Tippit, Oswald's arrest, and his murder by Jack Ruby. There's a discussion of the ongoing debate over who really shot JFK and whether it was a conspiracy--a debate that continues to rage after 50 years.

The museum journey ends with a brief look at Kennedy's legacy.

All together, it can be an emotionally draining experience.

Plan to spend a minimum of 90 minutes at the Sixth Floor Museum – more if you want to watch the archival footage and listen to the optional extra information embedded in the digital listening device. The digital device is included with the $16 admission fee ($14 for seniors 65+).

Learning about Lee Harvey Oswald

After leaving the Sixth Floor Museum, walk across the street toward Dealey Plaza and its grassy knoll. Look for the Big D Fun Tour JFK Trolley Tour. This one-hour trolley tour follows the route the president's motorcade took through downtown Dallas, and then follows the route Oswald took in his attempt to avoid capture.

The trolley passes the building that served as Oswald's rooming house and stops at the spot where Officer Tippit died, plus the spot where Oswald met his end at the hands of Jack Ruby. With just an hour to cover so much ground, both in miles and narration, the guide made it clear from the outset that discussion of the events, a possible conspiracy, or anything else, is not welcome.

Tours run Wednesday-Sunday and cost $20 for adults ($18 for seniors 60+).

Web Extra: Answer another iconic question – Where were you on 9/11? – with a visit to the George W. Bush Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Exclusively online at http://www.bcbsil.com/lifetimes/bush.html.