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JFK: Sixth Floor Museum – Part 2

JFK: Sixth Floor Museum – Part 2

By on Feb 6, 2012 in Presidents | 0 comments

President Kennedy, White House photo collection

Finishing up the post on the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, which chronicles the events surrounding the shooting of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

One area intriguing area of the museum was the so-called “sniper’s nest,” a term I find to be aptly descriptive. These two simple words really capture the scene of boxes set up like a perch for a gunman who is waiting from above. Maybe it’s a phrase used in law enforcement, but it was new to me.

The area itself is behind glass, but you get a good view down to the street where JFK’s motorcade went by.  Again, my reaction was, “Wow, the street is right there!’

Dealey Plaza and Elm Street as seen from the front of the Book Depository

Of course, there are many, many theories on the JFK assassination, and the museum does not shy away from them. There are displays on the different conspiracies, the Zapruder films, the Warren commission, etc., and you can hear recorded testimony from some of the investigations.

The information is presented in a very matter-of-fact manner, allowing each visitor to decide for him or herself what happened. And based on the discussion we had in the car ride home, people interpret the same information very differently. That’s part of what I like about these trips, they can start some great conversations with your family and friends!

Some other things that stayed with me:

-Dallas police wanted to take control of the investigation because it was a local incident, but Lyndon Johnson would not let Air Force One leave Dallas without President Kennedy’s body on board.

-The investigation into the assassination drastically changed how the Secret Service protected the president. A few years ago I watched an interesting panel discussion with some of JFK’s Secret Service detail. I think the discussion actually took place in the Sixth Floor Museum. These men had some interesting insights into the event, which I think they had written in a book.

Official government photo of Pres. Johnson taking the oath of office aboard Air Force One

-The iconic image of Jackie Kennedy standing there as LBJ was sworn on Air Force One had a new poignancy for me after learning more about that day’s events.

-It is almost unbelievable that Jack Ruby was able to get so close to shoot Lee Harvey Oswald. It is chilling to think it occurred on live television. As someone who worked in the media, I was intrigued to learn how the Kennedy shooting and subsequent events changed how the media worked with law enforcement. (I think I recall an exhibit on that).

In a previous post, I wondered what a gift shop in a museum about such a dark event in American history would sell. Well, there are lots of books on President Kennedy and other presidents. There mugs have the logo of the Sixth Floor Museum, not photos of the building or the grassy knoll (at least I didn’t see them). I find this to be appropriate and respectful. I often pick up a magnet on a visit to a presidential site, but none appealed to me, so I got a postcard instead (I always send a postcard to my friend Julie who was there from the beginning of Nerd Trips).

The Kennedy assassination is an event that has been debated and dissected for years, and I sure that will intensify as we approach the 50th anniversary in November 2013. There are many books, movies and TV shows about it. (On my DVR, I have saved a show on “Unsolved History” about it. When I watch it, I will let you know what I think).

Still, I think actually visiting the location of an historic event gives you a perspective you can’t get otherwise. If you can, I encourage you to visit Dallas and the Sixth Floor Museum to see for yourself.

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