Thursday, November 22, 2012

Somber 50th anniversary of JFK assassination to include Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough

by JONATHAN RIENSTRA / Austin Culturemap

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Ruth Altshuler and former mayor Ron Kirk announced plans Tuesday at the Old Red Museum in Dallas for next year’s 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s death.

Headed by a 25-person committee, “The 50th” is a public memorial that will take place at Dealey Plaza on November 22, 2013, beginning at 12:25 pm.

“It was important the direction of this event was generated by the citizens of Dallas,” Rawlings said. “Not by one person, and not by any one group and not even City Hall. That’s why for the creation of the 50th committee, members were selected that were symbolizing the whole community.”

The event will be free and open to the public, Altshuler said, though the committee is currently figuring out a ticketing system for those wishing to attend.

Private donors have and will fund the 50th, ensuring that the city will not absorb any of the costs. Altshuler said that they have already raised more than $1 million and hope to reach at least $2 million.

Altshuler also said that noted historian and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough will be the guest speaker, mostly touching on quotes from some of John F. Kennedy’s speeches. Bells across the city will mark the beginning of the ceremony.

Mayor Rawlings said that he hopes the entire city will observe a moment of silence at 12:30 pm and plans to ask mayors around the country if their cities will follow suit.

“The death of President Kennedy lives with us in the year 2012,” Rawlings said. “It was an event that altered the lives of anyone that was old enough to remember the tragic events of November 22, 1963. His death forever marked our city, but his life changed the world.”

Rawlings and Kirk expect the rest of the country and the world to be looking at Dallas this time next year. Rawlings said they hope to honor the life, legacy and leadership of JFK and to mark the day with a sense of dignity and honor.

“The 50th will be a serious, respectful and understated public memorial,” Rawlings said.

Former mayor and current US Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk said that in his travels around the world, he has found that Dallas is closely associated with JFK’s death.

“This story is going to be told,” he said. “It’s so much more important that it be told by Dallas, because I don’t think any community was forced into the level of retrospection that Dallas was.”

Mayor Rawlings believes the 50th will explore how that day defined the growth and development of Dallas moving forward. He spoke of how it can be difficult to reconcile the past with the present and the future.

“When John F. Kennedy launched his presidency,” Rawlings said, “he told Americans, ‘We stand today on the edge of a new frontier, of unknown opportunities and paths.’ That is why we will honor the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy, and in doing so, we honor the spirit by heading forward in this new frontier.”

Source: Austin Culturemap

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Historical marker for slain police officer J.D. Tippit unveiled in Oak Cliff ceremony

by ROY APPLETON / Dallas Morning News

Dallas police Chief David Brown, left, and Farris Rookstool III help Marie Tippit unveil a historical marker honoring her late husband, J.D. Tippit (Brad Loper / Dallas Morning News)
President Kennedy had been shot in downtown Dallas. A police dispatcher ordered Officer J.D. Tippit into central Oak Cliff and minutes later told him to be “at large for any emergency that comes in.” 

Police broadcasts described the shooting suspect as a “white male, approximately 30, slender build, height 5 foot 10 inches, weight 165 pounds.” 

At about 1:15 p.m. a cruising Tippit stopped a man walking on a sidewalk along Patton Avenue near 10th Street. Within seconds, four gunshots erupt. 

This afternoon, almost 49 years later, a crowd gathered at that crossing to honor the officer, slain outside his squad car that tragic day in Dallas. 

“On November 22, 1963, at this intersection, Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit was murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald, 45 minutes after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza.”

So begins the inscription on a state historical marker unveiled today at a corner of the Adamson High School campus, an area with little resemblance to the residential neighborhood there in 1963.

“Although the intersection of 10th and Patton Streets has changed,” the marker inscription concludes, “Officer Tippit’s actions and subsequent murder at this site are remembered for setting into motion a series of events that led directly to Oswald’s arrest.”

An 11-year veteran of the police force, Tippit received posthumous honors and praise for heroism – for doing his job, sending the gunman, later identified by witnesses as Oswald, the suspected presidential assassin, toward his capture at the Texas Theatre six blocks away.

A touched nation donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the 39-year-old officer’s family. But the site of his slaying had never been publicly designated for history’s sake.

Brad Watson, a reporter for WFAA-TV, Channel 8, questioned the lack of recognition for Tippit in a broadcast two years ago. Michael Amonett, then president of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, took up the cause, with help from Farris Rookstool III, a Kennedy assassination historian.

The school district provided the land. And the Texas Historical Foundation donated $5,000 to the project.

The crowd of about 200 people Tuesday included Tippit’s widow Marie; his children, Allan, Brenda and Curtis Tippit; his sister Joyce DeBord; other family members; and police officers past and present.

Standing and sitting under a cloudless sky, they watched members of the Adamson ROTC present the colors, heard the Dallas police choir sing "God Bless America" and listened while speakers praised the slain officer and his family.

“Officer Tippit did what hundreds of Dallas police officers do and have done every day since this tragedy,” said Dallas school trustee Eric Cowan. “He did his job, and as a result he gave the ultimate sacrifice and we as a community should — now thanks to this marker – never forget what happened on that day.”

Said Amonett: Forty-nine years ago “no one’s life was more impacted than the two families that lost their loved ones that day. … We have spent a lot of time honoring one of those families and that is right because he was our president. But we have also neglected one of those families.

“We honor Officer Tippit here today to try in a small way to right that. This has been a long time coming. I hope this is a way to say we are grateful for your sacrifice and that we are sorry for your loss.”

Dallas police Chief David Brown told those gathered that “there is no greater love than this: That a man would lay down his life for his fellow man.”

And after recounting details of the Tippit shooting and Oswald’s arrest, he said, “May God’s grace continue to bless and heal this family.”

Before the ceremony, Marie Tippit said, “It’s such an honor what they are doing for J.D. I appreciate it so much.”

Curtis and Brenda Tippit said they were thankful for the public support and recognition of their father. “It validates his service,” Curtis said. And the marker “should remind people of what police officers go through every day.”

In her brief remarks, Mrs. Tippit noted her husband “died just a few steps from here, doing his job, enforcing the law.”

And then with the help of Brown and Rookstool, she unveiled the marker, smiling as the crowd applauded.