Last week, I visited the Texas Book Depository on Elm Street in Dallas.
While I had been to Dallas several times, this was the first time I thought about going to see the place where President JF Kennedy was shot in 1963.
It was an experience !
The Book Depository has been maintained like it was way back in 1963, some 5 decades ago. I thought the entry fee of USD 16 was somewhat on the higher side for what was essentially a lesson on freedom and democracy.
I read almost all the placards in which JFK’s life history, his passions, his determination on civil rights, and his fights with communism were so well documented. I also saw the couple of film documentaries on his life, especially impressed by the one that was shot after his assassination.
When I looked at the spot chosen by Lee Harvey Oswald to shoot the President, I was indeed surprised. It must have been a rather tricky shot – in fact there was a tree in the line of fire. There were so many doubts about this assassination leading to several congressional inquiries. It is very difficult to believe that an assassin took a shot on the President of the U.S. from a bookstore and almost got away, and that too, from an improbable angle with a USD 12.78 rifle that he purchased via post.
I spent an hour and a half and then walked down to the exact spot on the road where the President’s car was when he was shot, marked with an “X” mark on the road leading to the underpass. An “open” presidential car procession is inconceivable in today’s world.
The oratorical skills of President JFK continue to impress me. His vigour and passion, his deep interest in the arts, his ability to fight against the Soviet Union, and his very deep conviction on Civil Rights for the blacks are all elements of a world-class leader.
Well, that was a rather young and high-potential leader’s life cut short by a brutal assassin, who was probably mentally deranged anyway.
If you are in Dallas, make it a point to go to the downtown and see the Bookstore Museum. It became, and continues to be, an critically important milestone in the development of human freedom and democracy, and is a beacon for people around the world in memory of a President who cared about freedom of people all around the world.
27 April 2013