I grew up with the JFK assassination seared into my very soul. Living south of Dallas and being born just months before President Kennedy was killed, my youth was filled with stories from both the media and friends and family members about the fateful day of November 22, 1963.
I can remember as a student that there was a JFK conspiracy guy who lived in our town. And every year he would come to the school to give his presentation on the Kennedy case, complete with his big film projector, showing the Zapruder film again and again.
He had tons of photos of all angles of Dealey Plaza from the date of the assassination. He showed blown up, fuzzy images of people behind the fence at the grassy knoll, the umbrella man, the Babushka lady, the black dog man behind the retaining wall and other shadowy figures. He definitely believed there was a conspiracy.
This and the fact that every year my school would take a trip to the State Fair and usually there was a swing by the school book depository building to give all the kids a look at things from the motorcade's perspective. Back then there was no Sixth Floor Museum. It was just an X on Elm Street.
I was in a store this week, and on the shelf was a Lee Harvey Oswald bobblehead doll. Thirty bucks. A few years ago it was $20 bucks, but with this being the 50th anniversary and all, the price has gone up. Anyway, the doll depicts Oswald in that picture - some say a doctored photo - of Lee Harvey holding a rifle and Communist newspapers.
Now I'm no prude, but this hit me just a little the wrong way. And this from a guy who frequents the south Dallas bar named Lee Harvey's.
Certainly Dallasites are entitled to still be a bit sensitive about the crime. It's something the city has officially struggled with for the past five decades.
Recently, the city undertook a complete revitalization of the Dealey Plaza area in anticipation of the 50th anniversary observance that is being planned. Finally, Dallas is reluctantly accepting its legacy.
For certain, the murdering of a president is something nobody wants. However, it is one of the most significant events in modern world history. I'd be so bold as to say it changed our nation.
So, even though I admit at one time having a macabre fascination with the Kennedy killing and subsequent murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, a good measure of restraint and solemnity is in order as we look back.
We will never all agree fully on what happened. Whether it was Oswald acting alone or some conspiracy, the result is the same. A young, charismatic leader lost his life. Camelot was no more. And Dallas had its legacy sealed.
Our place in history begins and ends with one, horrible event. Moving on means looking back, with reverence.
That's what I'm thinking.