50 Years Later-The Whole Story.

I lived in Dallas for 5 years. I still consider it “home-ish.”  I know that it’s the home of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, the place where Kennedy was assassinated, a shopping mecca, and the home of the Neiman Marcus, Texas Instruments, and Southwest Airlines empires.

I remember my grandpa talking about how he campaigned for President Kennedy when he came through El Paso.  The fact that he was a Catholic democrat in a city that is predominantly Catholic, Hispanic, and therefore (at the time) democratic was huge and exciting. It was an honor to see this young, handsome trailblazer and his caravan as they urged people to vote him into office.

I visited the Sixth Floor Museum with my parents when I was younger. I only went maybe once while I actually lived there.  I knew the basics about the Kennedy assassination and the tragedy that begot the country. I scanned the pictures and stared at the boxes of books, exactly as they lay.  I drove by Dealey Plaza tons of times as I left the downtown courthouse while clerking at a small firm in Dallas.

But clearly, I didn’t know anything about the assassination.  That’s just plain embarrassing. Or maybe it’s school’s fault. Maybe I just wasn’t listening. Who knows, but now I want to learn.

I recently watching “Killing Kennedy,” a documentary on National Geographic (it was fantastic and so were Rob Lowe, Ginnifer Goodwin, and  Michelle Trachtenberg {she played Oswald’s wife}).  You can watch clips here.

I have never felt less educated or poorly informed on such a major piece of American (and Texas) history.  Needless to say, after countless times asking, “really?!” I had to research for myself and bought a book that very next day.  I didn’t even realize that Oswald was married or lived in Russia. I had no idea about the ties to communism.

Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio & Steven L. DavisI started reading “Dallas 1963.”  It’s fantastic. It’s not a conspiracy theory book or a summary of the days around the killing. It’s a retrospective on the social climate in Dallas (and the country generally) at that time. It’s quite eye opening. And sad.  I had no idea how Dallas was really made and how long it was like that.

I live in Texas. I’m no fool.  I know that racism and discrimination exists. I saw it the first hand when I was in college. I was naive and didn’t think it was possible.  I was wrong.

But the depths of the racism is shocking. Is embarrassing. The level to which Texas went to “preserve” itself. Gah.

Anyway, on this 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death, I have to say that I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to learn more.  To be able to do what I want and go where I feel like it.  For the ability to be able to learn.  Who knows what had happened if he’d lived. Or if he never had been at all. All I know is that life for Mexican Americans and African Americans would like have been very different. And that’s just sad.

It’s good to reflect every now and then on the events that make this country what it is today.  Yesterday reminded many of us about the tragedies that predate us. Not knowing about them doesn’t make us any better, and it definitely doesn’t teach us anything about the past. Read on.

Fifty Years-JFK Remembered

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