Monday, November 16, 2009

The fatal shot

Last summer I was in Dallas and I visited Dealey Plaza, the spot where President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. The goodness that flowed into America out of the magnitude of its effort to overcome the badness of World War II seemed to filter through that moment in time, and nothing was the same thereafter. Vietnam, Watergate, Irangate, trickle down (ketchup as a school vegetable!), Monica, W. We still don't have universal health care. (Right: Dealey Plaza. The Grassy Knoll is in the exact center of the picture. JFK had only a few seconds to live when he unsuspectingly encountered this vista.)

Driving down Elm Street in Dallas, as soon as I topped the rise leading down into the Plaza I recognized it instantly. The wide expanse of the split-roadway slope leading down to a highway underpass has been seared into the memory of every American who was a school child in the early 60s through countless published photographs of the event. Like a suddenly developed Polaroid photograph, there it all was. The Texas School Book Depository with its sixth floor sniper's perch, the broad roadway flowing past and under that window, the Grassy Knoll beyond.

I believe something more was going on that day than just a lone-wolf political-nut shooter taking out the President by a blind convergence of luck and circumstances. Additional shooters? I didn't know. My nagging doubt always centered upon the difficulty, nay, impossibility of three shots being fired with such great accuracy from a bolt-action rifle at such extreme range. The difficulty of distance was what impressed me from the numerous pictures I had seen of the place. (Left: The Texas School Book Depository is behind me. Although I am not in the roadway, imagine a sniper with a scope in the right corner window one level below the top row, trained upon me. Completely doable. A slow moving car in a parade procession would be traveling directly away from the shooter, not across his front, so he needn't swivel the barrel to track the target.)

In person I instantly saw that it was very possible. Actually seeing the site, the distances compressed. For a good shooter with a stable platform, that was a likely shot. Lee Harvey Oswald was a Marine sharpshooter.

In the next post I'll disclose the official Dallas version of the shooting, to which I am now privy.


Black Knight said...

Unbealivable I remember very well that day even if I was only 7. I remember our teacher speaking of the President, our thoughts and ... yes... that movie.

Just_because_today said...

Definitely a moment never forgotten. Even for those of us too young back then, it has been placed in our memories by the many pictures. A wrong ending to someone who did so much right