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The Sixth Floor Museum

Dallas' Tribute to John F. Kennedy
Article Date: January, 2014


I remember Friday, November 22, 1963 quite well. I had just finished my lunch and was preparing to return to school when the news rang out that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. School let out early that day and for the rest of the weekend everyone was glued to the television as non-stop coverage began. It was a time that any American living at that time won't forget. It was inconceivable that this personable President who led our country through some tough times was now dead.

President Kennedy arrived in Air Force One, landing at Love Field in Dallas at 11:37AM. He was joined by Texas Governor John Connally, Vice President Johnson, and all their wives in preparation for the 1964 presidential campaign. An estimated 200,000 Dallas citizens greeted the president's motorcade as it passed through downtown on the way to a sold-out luncheon for 2,600 people at the Dallas Trade Mart. As the motorcade made the slow turn onto Elm Street in Dealey Plaza shots rang out. Eyewitness testimony led police to an immediate search of the railroad yards and fenced area north of Elm Street, which later became known as the grassy knoll, as well as the Texas Book Depository.

The entire event became larger than life as additional twists and turns evolved.

A search of the Texas School Book Depository revealed a sniper's perch by a corner window ion the sixth floor. Stacked cases of books were carefully arranged and three spent rifle shell casings were found on the floor at 1:15 PM. Further search revealed a rifle stuffed in a corner behind some boxes near the exit stairwell. Employees were questioned by police but during a roll call, Lee Harvey Oswald, an employee of the Depository who had begun work there the month before, was missing. Fingerprints on the rifle and on a stack of boxes in the sniper's perch were later confirmed to belong to Lee Harvey Oswald, who had been seen on the sixth floor 35 minutes before the shooting and found in the building's lunchroom two minutes after the shooting.

After the shooting of J. D. Tippit, a Dallas policeman, officers arrested Oswald after a scuffle inside the Texas Theatre at 1:50 PM. Over the next 24 hours more than 300 representatives from local, national and international news organizations descended upon the Dallas Police headquarters to cover this major news event. On Sunday, as Oswald was being transferred from the city jail to the county jail, nightclub owner Jack Ruby stepped out of the crowd and fatally shot Oswald. Ruby was convicted and sentenced to death but died three years later while awaiting an appeal.

On November 29th, President Johnson established a special commission, headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy. The Warren Commission concluded that Oswald acted alone in killing the President. A 1979 report commissioned by the House of Representatives added that a second gunman fired at the motorcade from the grassy knoll. This was supported by audio tapes from the event as well as witness accounts by people present that day. This was repudiated in 1988 by the Justice Department but conspiracy theories continue to evolve to this day.

The visitor's entrance is in a museum addition. Visitors are equipped with headphones and audio devices to guide and explain the museum exhibits.

The tour begins with the history of President Kennedy, including his election campaign, the cold war and civil rights issues that he dealt with as well as other events lading up to his trip to Dallas.

President Kennedy was headed for a luncheon with 2,600 people at the Dallas Trade Mart. This place setting was intended for President Kennedy.

This view from the Sixth Floor shows the route the motorcade took, turning right onto Houston, heading towards the Texas Book Depository, making a slow left turn onto Elm Street, where the fatal shots were fired.

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