image of JFK Dealey Plaza

A Life Experience When Time Stood Still

Life experiences aren’t always about exhilarating or extreme events. For me, it’s a unique food tour, an epic concert (or an epic fail concert). Sometimes it’s just a memorable night out with friends. But on my most recent trip to Texas I experienced a brief moment when time stood still.

I’d never been to Texas before, and I’ve been twice in the past month for work. I used to imagine Texas being like the Rootin’ Tootin’ Chicken Hawk from the cartoons, you know, with Foghorn Leghorn always getting shot by that little cowboy-rooster. Yes, I’m guilty of stereotyping Texans as a bunch of gun-toters ready to shoot up anything. In reality, they’re some of the nicest and friendliest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in my travels. I can’t understand half of them – but they’re nice, calm, patient, and don’t shoot me when I say “pardon” about 800 times.

Anyway, I was staying in Fort Worth, about 30 mins from Dallas. Nice little area, quaint Stockyards tourist trap (guilty of spending $5 to get a pic on a Texas Longhorn). Great river-walk area with nice restaurants that serve meat, meat, and for the vegetarians – meat.

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Downtown Ft. Worth at the (now) Hilton Hotel is where President Kennedy had his final sleep. A local told me this info, and also about the monument/statue of Kennedy there, so I went to visit on my second night. I felt quite moved when I visited. Not just by what happened. But the thought that this great man had his last sleep there, his last breakfast, his last dream, his last night with his wife. His last night. Period.

A few days later I made it to Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas to see where history unfolded and changed Presidential transportation forever.

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I wasn’t alive when Kennedy was assassinated but it’s one of those moments in time where anyone born in the late 1950’s and earlier likely remembers exactly where they were when they heard the news. It was their 9/11, and oddly enough, news outlets are still talking about it, rather, the conspiracy theories still floating around.

As I wandered around the area where JFK’s assassination took place, I felt quite sad thinking about it all. I thought of the chaos and commotion that must have ensued. I thought of the shock and disbelief of what happened. I thought of Jackie Kennedy-Onassis. After that last thought I didn’t want to think anymore. I just looked at the ground for a few seconds.

Oddly though, visiting Dealey Plaza wasn’t as touching a moment as when I visited the Ft. Worth memorial where nobody was around. It was different at Dealey. For better or worse, it’s become a tourist attraction with people cashing in on guided tours, others getting photos of themselves by the ‘X’ on the street, or people taking selfies. I just don’t get that. A man – no, a President of the United States – was killed, and you want a picture of yourself, smiling, where he was fatally shot?!?

I was talking to two gentlemen on the other side of the grassy knoll – I couldn’t pick out their accents – not that it really matters. I asked which of the buildings the shot came from, they pointed out the exact window for me, then proceeded to tell me how easy a shot it was from that range with the gun used (I have zero knowledge of guns so WTF would I know if it was an easy shot). They said the shooter could have picked him off even further away if they wanted to. It was kind of eerie for me to hear two men (who were likely young lads when it happened) say something like that. Almost like there was an “of course he got shot” kind of attitude. I said to them, “well, it was 1963, I guess they thought they didn’t have to worry about such a thing happening. Sad when you think about it that the President can’t drive around like that”. They agreed, and seemed to understand my viewpoint. They became quiet, almost humbled by that statement and said it definitely changed things.

Politics aren’t my favourite topic of discussion. I find them divisive, even more so today than ever. Look no further than Facebook comments where the “left” insult the “right”, and the “right” insult the “left”…then they hang out at the same bar to cheer on their local sports team together – a sports team likely owned by a right-wing tycoon playing in a stadium built from a state-funded left-wing government. Where am I going with this? Well, regardless of your political POV, a person’s life shouldn’t be taken because you disagree with them. As an Indian proverb says; “…the Left wing and the Right wing belong to the same bird.”

Now go sell all your stuff…and know when to NOT take a selfie!

 

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