Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dealey Plaza & The Sixth Floor Museum

Monday June 9th, 2008

After dinner on Market Street I took a stroll and found Dealey Plaza. It was nearly dark with a half-moon overhead. At 9:00 PM the clock in the old courthouse started to chime as I walked toward the plaza. Not knowing exactly where I was going I first came to the monument for John Dealey which included a reflecting pool, a statue of Mr. Dealey, and a Texas state flag. Across the street, just to the north, was a similar monument to President John F. Kennedy. It had a US flag pole but no statue -- just a plaque recording his last moments and a reflecting pool leading northward to the Texas School Book Depository, now renamed as Dallas County Administration Building.

Huge live oak trees line the sidewalk between the monument and Dallas County Administration Building building. I tried to reconstruct where the president was when shot and from where the shots were fired. That was pretty hard given the traffic and the low light. Here is a photo I found on the internet looking towards the Texas School Book Depository from the approximate place where President Kennedy was shot. I don't know which window it was believed that Lee Harvey Oswald used. I think that a tour of the Sixth Floor Museum will put that all in perspective (which I hope to do between meetings).

One thing that struck me about all of this is how small things are and close together. The distance from where the photographer stood to the sixth floor is no more than 100 yards and probably a good deal less. The President was shot about halfway between the previous block and a railway overpass and that distance is no longer than two city blocks. The documentaries I've seen which give the impression of huge expanses of boulevards but that isn't the case. The grassy knoll is exactly that -- a little bit of rolling turf smaller than an average city lot.


Wednesday June 11th, 2007

Today our committee recessed for an early lunch and I took the opportunity to visit the Sixth Floor Museum. It is a self-guided tour where you wear head-phones and listen to a narrator explain the displays. There are lots of photos interspersed with several short videos. There was also a 10 minute movie about the world's reaction to the president's death.

The exhibits included the corner window where it is believed that Lee Harvey Oswald fired his shots. I think that the window can be found in the above picture: far right, second floor from the top. This corner exhibit was blocked by floor to ceiling plexiglass and it was made to look the way it was on November 22, 1963 without the gun or bullet casings. Boxes had been arranged to block the windows and three boxes were used to establish a rifle rest. After viewing this room the narrator guided us to move to the third set of windows on the sixth floor. Down below on Elm Street were two X's in the center lane indicating the precise places where President Kennedy was shot. As mentioned above I suspected the distances to be shorter than 100 yards and I was exactly correct: the first shot made impact about 30 yards from the window and the second shot was no more than 50 yards. The short distances indicate that the shots could've been made with ease by someone with a modicum of training even if they were using iron sights. It should be noted that Oswald's rifle had a scope on it making such shots even easier.

Over the years I've kept an open mind about the possibility of more than one gunman being involved but after visiting the site I am less inclined to believe those theories. It is unfortunate that the CIA, the FBI and other agencies withheld information from the Warren Commission. When that came to light it only threw gasoline on the fires of conspiracy theorists. We may never know with 100% certainty what happened that day but I am inclined to believe that Oswald acted alone.

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