View of the sixth floor window. (Contributed by Ed Herbert)
Teresa and I are at the 2013 KOA Convention in Austin, TX. While traveling the 1,200 miles here, we stopped in Dallas to visit the Sixth Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza Thursday morning, the day before the extravagant 50th Anniversary ceremonies to which one needs special invitations. Teresa had never been in the Plaza or to the Museum. The Museum is a recap of Kennedy's political and personal life with an emphasis on the assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby and the legacy of Kennedy.
Let me start this by saying I would learn later that no photographs were allowed. Before that moment, I accidentally took a photo of the one area I wanted to visit — the sixth floor window.
That photo was the open window from which Oswald shot three times. Depending upon the research, most agree the first bullet missed with concrete fragments striking a bystander (minor cuts). The second bullet is the one that hit Kennedy and Governor Connelly. The third was the horrific hit on the back of Kennedy's head. When Jackie climbed onto the back of the car, many thought she was calling the Secret Service agent but she was gathering pieces of his skull and brains. So tragic.
Before I remembered one was not supposed to take photos (Oops!), I also took a photo from the window to three windows to the right but it has not downloaded to my laptop (probably user error at this point). Some people (conspiracy folks) standing at this window said Oswald could not have seen the President through the trees but I (taking my dad's conclusion) reminded them that those trees were much smaller 50 years ago. As for me breaking the rules, I come by it honestly as my dad broke into the back of Parkland Hospital as the physicians worked on Kennedy, trying to get the story. That's where a big Secret Service agent took him down and threw him out as my dad tried to say "freedom of the press!" He was lucky he was not shot!
The visit reminded of many things my dad has said about the weekend. I kept thinking, how at 32 years old, this newsman was living the biggest event of his life. His first job was with Walter Cronkite, he had worked for Edward R. Murrow, yet he was in the midst of this historic event while they were miles away. The Ruby exhibit was interesting and I remembered my dad's words about Jack Ruby, a thug who thought he would be a national hero for shooting Oswald.
Leaving the Museum, I saw a remote van for KTVT-TV 11, the station for which my dad was the news director.
I said hi to the reporter and said my dad worked for your station when it was an independent station (it is now the CBS affiliate). Manuel (the reporter) asked me when and I told him that dad was your news director and on air anchor 50 years ago covering this event. He stared at me for a moment and then asked if he could talk with me on camera about, soooo...
I did about 5 minutes with Manuel from KTVT-TV 11about things my dad would tell in his presentation, "Dark Days in Dallas." I doubt it will be a news story for today or even tomorrow but maybe something for their weekend news. Still, I was very happy I could share memories of my dad with his former TV station 50 years later. I told him that he could hear my dad with the Chamber Breakfast with JFK in Fort Worth. He wrote that down and asked if we could use the information. I said it is on YouTube so it is fine. He was kind to take a photo of us at the Plaza with the Book Depository behind us. This was at the point of the second shot by the way.
The trip was very unique as most of the people there were remembering our slain President. We were as well but I also went to honor my dad, the biggest story in his career and how he handled it 50 years ago. What a tragedy this event was for our country but it also proved our Constitution works and we are a government of the people, by the people and for the people as we picked ourselves up, wiped away our tears and continued as a country.