Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dallas Ceremony Honors JFK's Legacy

At WSJ, "Thousands Pay Tribute on 50th Anniversary of Assassination":

DALLAS—Under leaden skies, thousands of people here paid solemn respect to President John F. Kennedy on Friday at the small greensward that his motorcade was passing when he was slain by gunfire exactly 50 years ago.

Roughly 5,000 people, who were awarded tickets through a lottery, braved freezing temperatures and steady rain for the hourlong commemoration at Dealey Plaza, which included songs by the U.S. Naval Academy Men's Glee Club, a nod to Kennedy's service as a naval officer during World War II, as well as a recitation of some of the president's speeches by historian David McCullough.

Among those attending was Jill Michaels, who drove an hour and a half from her home in Waco, Texas, to commemorate the fallen president, arriving several hours before the ceremony began at noon. "Kennedy's assassination was our generation's 9/11 moment," said Dr. Michaels, a 59-year-old dentist. "I came to remember it and maybe to experience a healing moment."

Dallas's event was as much a tribute to the president's life and vision as it was an attempt at closure for the city, which had been scarred by the events a half-century ago on Nov. 22, 1963, after which people blamed a climate of intolerance here for the shooting.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, 59, assured citizens that the city "was not guilty of the crime," but acknowledged that it had used the event as a catalyst to change for the better.

"It seems like we all grew up that day," said Mr. Rawlings, who recalled being ushered into the school gymnasium that Friday in 1963 and told his school day was over.

The commemoration drew visitors from around the world, many of whom were drawn by both Kennedy's legacy and the persisting mystery surrounding his death. Many people to this day continue to believe there must have been a wider plot to assassinate Kennedy, with some questioning the Warren Commission conclusion that accused gunman Lee Harvey Oswald, a worker at the Texas School Book Depository, was the sole gunman.