Do any of you recall where you were on November 22, 1963? For most of us, that date is one that preceded our existence by at least a decade or more. The assassination of JFK stands out as one of those days our parents will never forget, just as many of our grandparents will never forget the bombing at Pearl Harbor, and we will never forget September 11, 2001.
I have been fortunate enough to have visited each of these sites at various stages in my life, with each one having a substantial impact in the way I view America and its history. While visiting my sister in Dallas a few years ago, our family decided to visit the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
Opting to take a tour of the old Book Depository, we worked our way through the museum’s exhibits and collections, learning bits and pieces about JFK himself, as well as those whose names are etched into history for the role they played in the assassination plot.
Videotapes, recordings, newspaper clippings, and photographs helped to display the events of that fateful day; however, it wasn’t until we stopped in front of the window that looked down upon Elm Street. Whether or not you believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone or at all in the assassination, one could not help but picture the man right there in that room.
After leaving the Depository, we made our way down to the area of the “grassy knoll.” Having stood in various places, where history took place, this was an equally moving moment. Standing where so many witnessed our 35th President be shot, I suddenly wondered how my parents felt. Hearing them recall how they were sitting in school when they heard the news, this must have been a surreal moment for them to actually be standing where it all took place.
I’ve always said that one can learn much about history in a textbook; however, to truly experience and appreciate it, one must travel to see where it took place.