Today, Friday, Nov. 22, marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Jr.
Through stories, and both audio and video recordings, I have a small insight on that infamous day.
I traveled to Dallas, Texas this past January to visit my cousin Lauri, her husband James, and children Jami and Liese. Of course one of sights I insisted on visiting was Dealey Plaza.
Even in January, preparations for the 50th anniversary were already in the works. Workers enjoying their lunch break lined the grassy knoll.
The plaza looks like any other busy intersection in a center city environment -- but holds heavy with the memory of what happened there 50 years ago.
At a first glace, there were few hints back to the events on Nov. 22, 1963.
One of which is the sixth floor window where the gunman shot President Kennedy. Today, it is set to appear permanently open. Clear glass acts as a shield to protect the present day museum from weather.
Then there is the road where the car carrying President and his wife was driving. Even for tourists, a white “x” painted on the road does not need explanation on what it marks. Of course a conspiracy theorist with his cardboard presentation of proof positive photos, and book for sale set up underneath a tree; a handful of people surrounded him, their interest high for the possible plots.
Visiting this infamous location gave me a deeper emotional connection to the event. I put myself there when I am re-watching video clips of the assassination. Today everything is recorded and instantly broadcast to the Internet but it is still remarkable that I am able to watch the video of the impact of the shot. This major event in history was recorded while it occurred. It’s through the mediums of photography and video that gives weight to the historical impact.
“To me, photography was a way to manage that grief and that trauma, a way to try to get a handle on what really happened,” Brian Wallace, chief curator and director of exhibitions, International Center of Photography, said in an interview with PBS. Wallace used thousands of submitted personal photographs of Kennedy for an exhibit entitled “JFK: A bystander’s view of history.”
The events of history are recorded through not only bystanders, but in every American citizen’s memory.
In 1963, my mom was in fifth grade when she heard our most beloved President was shot. Her recollection of the day is clear in her memory much like hearing about the attacks on Sept. 11 will forever be in mine.
When she got home after school, her mother had the television on to watch the continual coverage of the events and repercussions in Dallas, Texas until his funeral. That was something my mother distinctly remembered, how her family -- and the country -- stayed glued to the news.
According to an article on CNN.com, CBS broadcast the first nationwide television news bulletin on the shooting 10 minutes after President Kennedy was shot. Every major news network, ABC, NBC and CBS, “interrupted their regular programming to cover the assassination for four straight days.”
The television crews were broadcasting live when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 24, 1963.
Media not only connects the community but provides for documentation of history. Through the video and images, future generations can continue to experience that fateful day in American history.