By Greg Fieg
For more than 20 years after John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States, was gunned down at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, lawmakers and other authorities resisted calls for creation of a shrine dedicated to the memory of the fallen leader. Opponents to such proposals were reluctant to appear to glorify what many considered a shameful blemish in the proud city's history, or worse, create what might be considered a defacto monument to assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
Though many shunned the site altogether, city leaders and other interested parties eventually relented in deference to the thousands of visitors who paid homage at the plaza year after year. Today the plaza is a public park commemorated by a 30-foot high JFK statue at street level.
Open to visitors throughout the year is The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza at the top of the former Texas School Book Depository building where Oswald worked and from which he fired the fatal shots. The museum is operated under the auspices of the Dallas County Historical Foundation. But the museum focuses not on Oswald (his rifle has been withheld from exhibition) but on television, radio and newspaper reporters and their challenges in bringing news of the tragedy to the American public on that fateful Nov. 22, 1963 afternoon.
Visitors can study the tragedy through historic film, video, photos, files and artifacts. First-hand accounts of the days leading up to and following the shooting can be heard, including those of NBC's Edwin Newman, ABC's Peter Jennings and CBS's Walter Cronkite. Among artifacts on display is a 10-foot by 10-foot model of the Dealey Plaza area. It was created for Warren Commission investigators in 1964.
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