Category Archives: History

272 Words, 150 Years

150 years ago tomorrow, Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. It was once considered so important that schoolchildren were required to memorize it. I memorized it in the 8th grade.  I guess it’s not considered so important anymore. Many of my students don’t even know what it is. Times have changed.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863

 

Dealey Plaza, Dallas Texas

Back at the end of October, a few friends and I flew to Dallas. We went with one purpose in mind: to see the site of the John F. Kennedy Assasination.I was seventeen on November 22, 1963, a senior in high school. Over the years, I’d read several books about the assasination and seen countless TV shows and debates about the truth of what happened. My mental images were strictly from photos and TV. I’d often thought I would like to see the actual place where this terrible history was made. Click on the photos for closeups.

Texas School Book Depository

Texas School Book Depository. The name of the building has since changed, but everyone still calls it by the old name. The Plaza is smaller than it looks on TV, but it  looks remarkably like the way it looked in 1963. This years marks the 50th anniversary of the assasination, so there were quite a few tourists. The window Oswald shot from is on the right corner of the building, second from the top. If you look closely at the closeup photo, you can see a box in the window, replicating the “sniper perch” Oswald used.

Houston and Elm Streets

Houston and Elm Streets, the most infamous location in Dallas. Lunchtime crowds turn out that sunny afternoon to see the President’s motorcade. One of the people in the crowd was Abraham Zapruder. He had a movie camera to film the historic event. This is what he saw, standing on the same spot: Zapruder's View

The “Zapruder Film” as his 8mm movie would be ultimately called, became the most watched historical video of all time.

Another view was from the sixth floor of the Book Depository. This was the view Lee Harvey Oswald had. The sixth floor of the School Book Depository is now a musuem, and the “snipers nest” in the corner is encased in glass. This view is actually from the seventh floor, directly above that window.

Oswald's View

Suddenly, shots rang out. The President was shot. There were three or possibly four shots, depending on different reports. In just a few short seconds, President Kennedy was fatally wounded. Today the locations where the bullets struck are marked by X’s on the street:

Point of Impact

There was mass confusion at the scene. Some people thought shots came from behind a fence at the top of a small hillock. This site became forever known as “The Grassy Knoll”:Grassy Knoll

This is the view from behind the fence on the Grassy Knoll. We were told the original boards from the fence have been replaced many times, as they are frequently taken as souveniers.

Behind the Fence on the Grassy Knoll

This is the view from the railroad overpass next to the Grassy Knoll, looking back toward Dealey Plaza

View from the Railroad Overpass

 Lee Harvey Oswald worked at the School Book Depository. This is the boarding house where he lived:Oswald's Boarding HouseOswald later shot and killed Dallas Police officer J.D. Tippitt. Oswald was captured inside the Texas Theater:Texas Theater Oswald Captured

Two days later, Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby, after Ruby walked through this door and down a ramp into the Dallas Jail:

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 Bill Lewis, Jan Guiney, Ed Golat at Dealey Plaza.

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