News / USA

Dallas Museum Honors President Kennedy’s Legacy

Dallas Museum Honors President Kennedy’s Legacyi
November 20, 2013 4:19 PM
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, put the Texas School Book Depository building on the map of history. Despite several efforts to tear down the notorious structure over the decades, the old warehouse is now both a museum about the tragedy, and a memorial to President Kennedy. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh explores the museum’s unique role in helping people understand the Kennedy assassination.]]
Kane Farabaugh
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, put the Texas School Book Depository building on the map of history.  Despite several efforts to tear down the notorious structure over the decades, the old warehouse is now both a museum about the tragedy, and a memorial to the slain president.

The shots that rang out over Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, lasted just under six seconds. It brought an end to Kennedy’s  life, but marked the beginning of a decades-long struggle for a city to come to terms with its role in one of the most infamous moments in American history.

“That really cast a shadow on it," said Dallas deputy sheriff Gene Boone,  who was one of the first law enforcement officers to react to the shooting.  The city lost more than just a president that day, Boone said.

“We were almost afraid to go outside the community and let anybody know we were from Dallas.”

City leaders have long struggled to balance the reality of the assassination with the way it negatively - and unfairly - reflected on the city, said Southern Methodist University History Professor Jeffrey Engel.

“The event was really a source of great shame for Dallas, which I think Dallas is still dealing with 50 years later. For most Dallas residents of this time, they’ve essentially been trying to get out from under that shadow and tell the rest of the world, 'this is not who we are, this is not how we want to be remembered, and this is frankly not the image we want to present to the world,'” Engel said.

Helping to put the stigma on Dallas in perspective is the Sixth Floor Museum, located on the 6th floor of the former Texas School Book Depository. According to police, this is where Lee Harvey Oswald fired at the president’s motorcade.

Now it is a museum filled with exhibits which executive director Nicola Longford said is meant to objectively explain what happened.

“Part of the role of the Sixth Floor Museum is to create a neutral territory in the original space to help people understand what went on in 1963 and why this still has lasting impact today," Longford said.

The Sixth Floor Museum opened in 1989 and is now a top tourist destination in North Texas, attracting over 350,000 people a year.

“All generations, people from all over the world," she said. "And so we feel that we’re still trying to stay relevant and helping to put into context why this subject is so fascinating to so many people.”

Jim Tague was the only bystander in Dealey Plaza who was wounded in the shooting.  He still believes there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy.

“It’s a good history of Kennedy, but it doesn’t go into the assassination," Tague said.
"I find fault with that.”

Despite Tague's belief that Oswald did not act alone, Longford said the museum is a place where all aspects of the assassination are explored.

“Many of the conspiracies can be debunked very easily, but there are a lot of unanswered questions that will always make this fascinating for generations to come.”

Fifty years later, Gene Boone now proudly tells people he was born and raised in Dallas, thanks in part to the efforts of the Sixth Floor Museum.

“If you come here and see it and hear the story, you can really fully come to realize that it could happen anywhere, at anytime," Boone said.

But fortunately a presidential assassination is not an event that has happened since, making a visit to the 6th Floor Museum a truly unique experience.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
November 22, 2013 1:21 PM
I don't believe that Dallas will ever live down that shame - as well as it still lives bright in those of us alive at that time and very knowledgeable about that tragic time in their city. This was just too close to everyone's heart - he was the People's President

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs