The grass is not greener on this knoll
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
The scene wasn’t what I expected.
Traffic moved along without pause. Conspiracy theorists parked themselves in a position to tell their ideas of what really happened that fateful day in November.
I had imagined the exact spot where one of the nation’s most unsettling tragedies took place would somehow be different. Maybe the traffic would be permanently rerouted to memorialize a fallen president. Maybe the location would be marked with a bronze statue instead of a big white X on the pavement. Maybe the grassy knoll would be, well, a little grassier.
Life isn’t always what it seems.
Visiting Dealey Plaza in Dallas after a solar conference I attended last week was surreal for me. I grew up in a part-Irish Catholic family hearing about John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s assassination all of my life.
My mother, a McAnany by birth, remembers the day well. I recall reading my Aunt Patty’s childhood diary – yes, I was always a nosey one – as she recounted the tragedy. She was a kid then, on Nov. 22, 1963. When the teachers told Patty and her classmates that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, they all wept in unison.
The entire nation – even the children – mourned.
Flash forward nearly 50 years later. I walked around the plaza area in Dallas with my colleague Kevin and my boss Johnny, who also clearly remembers the assassination. He recounted the nation’s utter shock and disbelief. Not only had the president of the United States been assassinated, but the assassin was in turn assassinated two days later. On national television, no less. The scene was surreal, he said.
Visiting the scene of the crime I felt the anguish, too.
At the grassy knoll, where people reported hearing shots fired, we met a gentleman who said he was a witness to the assassination. He was just 13 years old at the time. He was one of the theorists, claiming Lee Harvey Oswald was not the lone shooter, as history has documented. He told us stories of seeing men on the grassy knoll and hearing shots fired from there. His theory has not been proven, but he believes. And he comes to that spot on the grassy knoll, nearly 50 years later, to share his views on what happened that fall day in Dallas.
As an American, he has that right.
His partners in conspiracy theory also joined him by the knoll to share their proof. They displayed photographs and documents backing the theory that several shots were fired outside of the well-known Texas School Book Depository location.
One man was telling us he was responsible for uncovering the autopsy photos that prove this theory. Honestly, I could have gone without seeing the graphic details of the shooting forever etched in my brain.
I know I wouldn’t last long as a nurse.
Seeing autopsy photos from a shooting of that caliber made me sad.
The photos of President Kennedy’s wife, Jacqueline, as she tried to shield him from the shots, were the most heart-wrenching to view for me. I felt the late First Lady’s pain as the man she promised to love, honor and cherish until death parted them died so tragically in her arms. The man who had uncovered those autopsy photos was there at the grassy knoll telling me how Jacqueline Kennedy never forgot the gory details.
I can’t imagine anyone in that situation would.
The JFK assassination holds as much mystery as the plot to a Scooby Doo episode. Except we’ll probably never know who the villain was behind the old man mask. Maybe that’s why visiting the exact location where President Kennedy was assassinated is so surreal.
The big white X on the road is there. The not-so-grassy knoll is there. And the conspiracy theorists are there. There’s even a museum in that old Texas School Book Depository building anyone can tour for $12.50 (with discounts for seniors and kids).
For me, there were more questions than answers to what happened on Nov. 22, 1963. The American public will likely never know if there was a lone shooter or a plot with several people involved that was eventually covered up. The man on the grassy knoll recounting what he thought happened says he knows.
But life isn’t always what it seems.
– April E. Clark did not ride a mechanical bull in Dallas. But she did eat a lot of BBQ. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @aprilinglenwood.
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