My friend Dennis got a hold of some free tickets to the Indy Car race in Dallas several years ago and we decided to make the trip to the race. We had a friend in the Dallas area so we had a place to stay when we went down there. Our friend also would serve as an excellent tour guide of the Dallas area.
The major site we had our eyes on was Dealy Plaza where President Kennedy had been assassinated in 1963. Like so many people the world over I had seen film footage of the assassination over and over again. I had seen computer models of Dealy Plaza and had a picture in my mind what it would look like in person.
Television and film can make your mind play little tricks on you. I had seen the Talladega Super Speedway dozens of times on television and thought I had a pretty good grip on what the track looked like. Then I went to a race at Talledega with my niece and nephew and saw how huge that place was in reality. It was a definite eye opener. The facility is larger than life and the back straight looks like it was in another county it was so far away. When the cars were on the back straight you could not make out the numbers on them.
I have been in baseball stadiums that look pretty large until you step into the place and the playing surface looks smaller than Kauffman Stadium here in Kansas City. Things just get distorted in your mind when you are constantly watching things and places on television until you step into the reality of the situation and you see for yourself what the place is really like.
We entered Dealy Plaza coming in through the triple underpass. I couldn't really recognize it too well from this angle but in my mind knew I was entering into history. We found a parking space next to the railroad yard that sat behind the picket fence that overlooked the grassy knoll area onto the assassination site. Walking over to the fence, I stood where many people think a second gunman had stood and fired the fatal shot that ended the life of the President.
I was stunned at what I saw. For the first time I realized how tiny of an area the plaza was. Standing behind the fence and looking out to the street was a very short distance. The grassy knoll is extremely small. I thought how easy it would be to get a good shot from there.
I walked over to the place where Zagruder had made stood making his famous 8mm film of the assassination. His camera made it seem like he was a fairly good distance from the street but in reality the man had a great view of the motorcade and was not very far from where the President was killed.
Walking around Dealy Plaza and taking a look at where the old Bookstore Depository Building stood looking over the street and you realize that even the place where Oswald was said to have hid in a sniper nest was not that far of a shot either.
As I walked around the historic site I began to notice how tiny the whole area really was. Two side of Dealy is lined with tall buildings that sit right on the street. The other side is where the grassy knoll lies is a park like area which is small than some of our neighborhood parks. The grassy park like area in the middle of the plaza is not much bigger. I began to notice something that is a standard strategy when it comes to setting a trap.
It is called triangulation and this place was perfect for setting such a strategy. Not only was triangulation easily set up but everything was so compact that there were not any long shots that would need to be taken. It at least gave me a reason to consider the possibility of a conspiracy in the murder of President Kennedy.
To make it clear I do not believe in the conspiracy theory. I feel that it has been proven more than a few times that Oswald acted on his own that fateful day. But of there was more than one gunmen, I could definitely see where it would be possible and understand the conspiracy theory base points of the argument.
There were paper sellers trying to sell papers that explained both sides of the theories. One paper gave only the known facts while most of the other vendors were selling papers that promoted a conspiracy theory of one sort or another.
There was a special tourist service that was very interesting. They had a car just as the one that Kennedy was riding in that day. The tour started at Love Field, where the President and First Lady had arrived in Dallas and then drove the tourists along the actual motorcade route. When the motorcade arrived at Dealy they had a recording in the car that sounded off the three shots that were fired that day. As soon as the shots were played, the car picked up speed, racing under the triple over pass and onto Parkland Hospital where the President was pronounced dead.
When the limousine came driving through the plaza and then started to speed up, Dennis decided it would be cool to run out and jump on the trunk of the car much as the Secret Service agents had on that day. It was only the extra traffic and the speed of the limo that kept Dennis from accomplishing his goal.
All in all it was a very educating experience. It was a day I will never forget, seeing that small part of Dallas in person. There are certain places that contain so much history that the history seems to live on forever. Ford's Theatre in Washington DC is one of those places. Gettysburg and Appomattox qualify in that category as well as the Watergate hotel. Dealy Plaza lives in that group of historic places.
Tomorrow the world will remember another historic moment at a site that will carry so much history it will never fade away. They will remember GROUND ZERO in New York City. It has been forty eight years since history visited Dealy Plaza. It has been ten years since the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed. Each of these places carry their own history that will never be forgotten.