Dallas. 22 November 2013 at 12.30pm. 50 years on…
The pilgrimage to Elm Street. Since 1963, the assassination of President John F Kennedy has become not so much a story about ‘who’ killed Kennedy, but ‘why’. Despite the release of some declassified material over the years, the world still seeks an answer.
But the question of ‘why’ won’t be answered by standing on the grassy knoll, or by watching the new movie Parkland (see below) released as one of the many activities to mark ’JFK 50′.
Even a visit to the world’s greatest library The John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, one of the thirteen Presidential Libraries in the US, will only provide strong clues.
The alleged crime scene on the sixth floor of the old The Texas School Book Depository in Dallas (now The Sixth Floor Museum) won’t tell you ‘why’ either. The only thing that provides a clue is the location – the grassy knoll. Stand on the second white ’X’ that marks the spot on Elm and you’ll see that the angle of the third and fatal shot came from behind the picket fence. And that means a conspiracy.
The grassy knoll
Solving JFK’s murder has been a life long passion for thousands, if not millions of Elm Street pilgrims. And understandably so. It’s the greatest unsolved murder of the twentieth century. Just visit Dealey Plaza in Dallas on any given day and you’ll soon be drawn in. It’s a place to reflect, pay homage, sit on the grassy knoll, or even stand behind the picket fence and imagine Zapruder and many others in that historical moment.
To stand on X also means dodging the traffic on Elm, but it was worth it, just to get a sense of the crime scene and to be one of those pilgrims.
As JFK once said, there are no faint hearts in Fort Worth
The new documentary JFK: The Final Hours gives first-hand accounts from people who were the last to see the President alive. Actor Bill Paxton is the narrator and was an eight year old pilgrim at the time. He recalls being in the crowd at Fort Worth when Kennedy gave what was to be his last speech. Bill was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying ‘I remember thinking it was like seeing a movie star. There stood a man at the peak of his life and his career, but little did he or any of us know that in three hours he would be murdered in cold blood.’
The closer you get to history, the more elusive it becomes.
Parkland the movie
Parkland the movie is based on the book Four Days In November by Vincent Bugliosi. Directed by Peter Landesman and produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Bill Paxton, Nigel Sinclair and Matt Jackson, the movie focuses on the people and events at Parkland Hospital immediately after JFK’s assassination. With music composed by James Newton-Howard, this line up would satisfy any audience! Watch for the brilliant casting of Paul Giamatti as Abraham Zapruder and Jacki Weaver as Lee Harvey Oswald’s Mum!
Billy Bob Thornton as Secret Service Agent Forrest Sorrels sums it up best with a great line in the movie: ‘There are people out there who are ready to start a war.’
Here’s the movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgPjt_BRLvY
Want another story on JFK? Read Leanne’s 2012 A Kennedy Story That Time Won’t Heal.
Leanne Henderson is an Australian financial services executive and PR, marketing and communications specialist and owner of Best of Breed Communications Pty Ltd. And JFK fan!