Dallas transcends its image to host thousands and honor JFK legacy

Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:38pm EST
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By Marice Richter

DALLAS (Reuters) - For 50 years, visitors from around the world have wandered across the grassy areas of Dealey Plaza, snapping photos and pointing up at the sixth-floor window of the building where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots that killed President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

Some call it hallowed ground, a place to reflect on the tragedy. For others, it is a chance to glean a tidbit of information to support an assassination conspiracy. But for the people who call Dallas home, Dealey Plaza was long associated with heartache and shame.

"His death forever changed our city, as well as the world," Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement ahead of Friday's 50th anniversary of the assassination. "We want to mark this tragic day by remembering a great president with the sense of dignity and history he deserves."

Thousands are expected for the city's first official ceremony in memory of the slain president. Only 5,000 people will be able to view it in Dealey Plaza, but video screens will be set up throughout downtown.

City leaders have said they want to show that Dallas acknowledges its role in the tragedy and is eager to honor the life and legacy of JFK. After having once been branded "the city of hate" and stigmatized by the rest of the world as "the city that killed Kennedy," it is another milestone.


Although tens thousands of cheering citizens lined the streets of the president's motorcade route, Kennedy was aware that not everyone in Dallas was eager to host him.

In the early 1960s era of Cold War paranoia and simmering racial tension, a small but influential group of arch-conservatives "hijacked" message, according to Bill Minutaglio, a University of Texas professor and co-author of the new book "Dallas 1963."   Continued...

A city of Dallas police officer looks out over an empty Dealey Plaza to the spot where U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 shortly after sunrise on the day before the 50th anniversary of the assassination in Dallas, November 21, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Bourg