Sunday, July 19, 2009


So, what do you think of when you hear, The Texas School Book Depository?

Or how about, The Grassy Knoll?

Um, a motorcade?

Lee Harvey Oswald?

Let me make it really easy for you: JFK.

All of that took place just ten minutes from where I am staying. In fact, I've passed the grassy knoll that made history while going to work; I've now driven over the X that marks the spot on the asphalt where President Kennedy was fatally shot.

And between shows today, me and two of my friends went to the Texas School Book Depository Museum. The footage is surreal. I've heard a lot about it, seen the movie JFK, and even remember the spoof that Seinfeld made of it on his show, comparing the trajectory of spit to the often cited trajectory of the bullets, but honestly--I don't think I've ever actually seen it.

Until today, that is.

You know, Jackie Kennedy looking less like the icon that she was and more like a happy girl in a pink suit dress and matching pink pillbox hat, frantically crawling around in the car, trying to help her wounded husband, trying to gather some of the pieces of his brain matter that are now anywhere but where they should be.

The adults, the kids, the people from all different backgrounds crying and ducking, after realizing that what they had thought must surely be the sound of an errant fireworks display is actually the sound of a shooter in their midst.

The frantic drive to Parkland Hospital with Secret Security men shielding the President's body; meanwhile guests are waiting at a reception dinner intended to welcome the President and Vice President Johnson to Dallas--a dinner that never happens. Instead, they stand in silence, in prayer, in entreaty to God for the life of a man on which American has pinned such high hopes.

The Secret Service, fearing that the attack on the President could turn into an attack on the next in line President Johnson, decide to move him to Air Force One immediately. But President Johnson will not leave without Mrs. Kennedy. And Mrs. Kennedy will not leave without her husband's body. And the M.E. wants to perform an autopsy. Finally, they agree to wait on the autopsy and they all leave Dallas.

The funeral procession that Mrs. Kennedy plans in replica to President Lincoln's own; the quarter of a million people who walk by the President's casket unbelievingly, but having to accept it nonetheless. Little Caroline and John John Kennedy, too small to realize what it means to grow up in this world without their father. The young and beautiful widow kissing the American flag that is draped over her husband's casket, saying good-bye, looking regal and achingly sad.

I had never seen any of this in detail before, and it was sobering, even moving me to tears.

It changed America, of that I am sure. Never again will a President be seen in an open-air motorcade going 5 mph. One of my friends who went with me today was at Bush's inauguration and told us how every bit of high ground was covered with Secret Service snipers, that there was no stone unturned in terms of security.

Also, there is much speculation. The auditory scientists said they were in fact 95% positive that evidence indicates there was a fourth shot from the grassy knoll in addition to the three that were accounted for from Lee Harvey Oswald.

In more news, a Texan told us that the case is supposed to be re-opened and completely re-examined in 2027. When I asked why the heck they have to wait so long, he said it had to be sealed for 65 years. And no, I don't know why that is.

This whole thing saddened me so much. Seeing the footage of the President's family, his staff, and the people who mourned him in American and across the world made it personal. But it also fascinates me because I think there could very well be some kind of conspiracy that we just aren't privy to.

But who knows? Maybe in 2027, the truth will reveal itself.


Mom said...

What happened to JFK and Jackie definitely shaped my view of history and America! You're description brought everything back to me in detail once again. I'm sure we don't have the truth about what happened yet. And, so many, many years later, I find that so frustrating! 2027? That just seems ridiculous to me! I would have loved to see what you saw.

kathiek said...

Was it surreal, being there where it happened? I know you said the footage was, but what about being in that physical space where this tragedy occurred? It seems like it would be to me. After it happened I wonder how long it took for people to walk/drive by there as if it were business as usual.

jason said...

I would like to see this museum! I totally believe it was a conspiracy. I think this plus watergate is the reason people rarely trust their government anymore (and rightly so.)

Jessica Latshaw said...

Mom--I know, 2027 seems waaaay too long to weight for them to re-open the case!!!

Kk--yeah, it really was. Especially driving over that simple X that was painted on the street. And seeing the corner where Lee Harvey Oswald set up his sniper position.

Jase--you would love this museum--our whole family would. And the whole fact that they got Oswald in custody and then HE was murdered--all before he could have a trial--and then just posthumously blamed the whole thing on him, metaphorically tying it up nice and neat--is very suspect. I hope the truth does come out.