So, what do you think of when you hear, The Texas School Book Depository?
Sunday, July 19, 2009
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.