Some kids always want to visit Disney World, some the Statue of Liberty. Me? I always wanted to see the San Jacinto monument or the Alamo. I wanted to see where events occurred that shaped my world. Most of these types of events came in the form of a battle. One of these sites however, was not the place of a traditional battle at all, but of the murder of one of our nation's most beloved leaders.
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot dead in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. The conspiracy theories hatched surrounding the events of that day still abound like no other to this day, almost 50 years later. As a young child, I don't know exactly when or how I learned of this national tragedy, but I do remember being no older than 11 years when I found a book on the life of JFK in the school library and couldn't get it open fast enough to find out whatever I could about the mystery. So I know at some point prior to this, I must have learned of the conspiracy theories.
I spent much of my young life and even into young adulthood watching every JFK conspiracy documentary I could find, and always was fascinated by the story. I even had some inside intel from within my own family, who knew Jack Ruby well. I just couldn't get enough of the idea that such a massive cover-up could have ever taken place, or that our government was capable of carrying out such atrocities.
My interest in the JFK conspiracy made me who I am today. It shaped me into someone who (proudly) looks past what we the masses are told, and seeks truth. Perhaps this is because not only is truth stranger than fiction, but it is almost always more interesting. I would find my life's passion in the research of the unknown, and I believe it stemmed largely from the JFK conspiracy.
Living in Dallas my whole life, you might think it strange that I never had visited Dealey Plaza, or the 6th Floor Museum, where visitors can tour the place where the president was killed, where Oswald perched high above Elm Street. In fact, my own wife thought it strange that I'd never visited the place.
I watched the movie "The Men Who Killed Kennedy" this weekend with her, and it revitalized a yearning for information in me, an amazing lust that I just can't explain. I saw the pictures of the grassy knoll, the book depository, the railroad bridge all in the movie, and realized I had driven past them at times and never fully internalized that I was driving through a horrific vortex in history each time. I had to go there.
So today, I blew off work and took a trip to Dealey Plaza. My wife took my camera this morning so the pictures here are iPhone quality, but they still take my breath away every time I look at them. Visiting this spot was one of the most deeply-touching, spiritual experiences of my life, and so I couldn't wait even a day to share it with you.
I parked in a packed-out $4 parking lot next to the railway which crossed over the tri-street roadway of Commerce, Main, and Elm. I stepped out just as a train crossed over the bridge and my vision went to the black and white videos I have seen of that fateful day. I wonder if a train crossed that bridge when it happened? I walked around the gate of the parking lot down to Elm Street.
As I skirted the well-manicured lawn which wraps around the Elm Street curve, I pass many other visitors, most of whom carried cameras and discussed details of that day with one another. The shade provided by the trees overhead was wonderful on a hot day in the north Texas sun, but it was little shelter from the wind, which swept down between the skyscrapers and across the lawn as it were prairie land of long ago.
I made my way under the cover of the trees, across the lawn, down to the sidewalk trimming Elm. When I arrived at the roadside, I waited for the traffic to pass and moved across the street to gain my bearings. This is when I realized that I had just crossed the grassy knoll. Again, my vision faded to black and white as I watched the motorcade pass, this time the president was slumped slightly in the back seat, Jackie tending to him. Then I heard a shot, and the president's head snapped back, his wife scrambling across the trunk of the limo as it sped away under the railroad bridge next to the parking lot. Did I see smoke coming from under the trees on the knoll?
I looked up and to my right, down Elm to the book depository, and the 6th floor window, far east corner was still open. I can pick out the spot where Oswald would've sat had I been a little earlier. I needed a closer look, and so I crossed Elm again and headed east.
As I walked down Elm, up to Houston, I stop to lean against the massive and imposing red brick building to stand in the shade of the staircase splayed in front, only to realize that 6 floors up, 47 years back, Oswald sat waiting gun in hand for the President of the United States. This was very interesting to me, but not I realized before entering the building that it wasn't why I came. The real experience was back on the grass, next to the parking lot, on the knoll.
I ventured back to the slope of the lawn and found a shady place beneath a tree. I sat, then laid back and closed my eyes, taking in the energy of a place visited by thousands over the last 50 years to grieve, and to honor a very special man. The energy of the mourning and love, the prayers poured into this sacred place was like nothing I can describe. I opened my eyes after what seemed like a few minutes and took in the scenery. I was sitting just next to the filming perch of the famous Zapruder, and the film rolled right before my eyes yet again.
I spoke at length with a historian there on the knoll, I said my own prayer of thanks, and I left. You see this site is sacred to me for a couple of reasons. First, it my introduction at whatever age to the JFK story that pointed me into the direction I would head for the rest of my life, and guided me to my lifelong passion for the study of the unknown.
Meanwhile, this site is so full of incredible frequencies of energy in high volume, and represents a place of sacrifice. John Kennedy wanted us out of a war initiated on lies, he wanted to print currency that didn't enslave his people, and he wanted to warn Americans of the secret, monolithic power that threatens our very lives to this day. And he was killed for it.
I will visit the site again soon, and perhaps it will always be a sacred place to me now. All I know is that I can't place a time in my memory that touched me more deeply in such a way that I was in complete reverence of the moment and place for the better part of a day. This was truly a life-changing experience, and I am so thankful for the events that led to my trip to this hallowed place.