The Duncan Banner

Opinion

December 1, 2013

Decades later, shock remains

DUNCAN — The memory is still vivid. Nov. 22, 1963. Shortly after 1 p.m. A Friday. Sophomore year in high school. Walking down the second floor hallway to an English class.

Over the public address system came a familiar voice, that of the principal. The announcement was shocking. President John Kennedy had been shot, possibly killed.

Laughter stopped. Jokes subsided. Conversations ended. Girls cried. Disbelief reigned.

Last week, visiting Dallas, I relived the horror and the feeling was much like that I recall 18 years ago. I was limp.

The words and places seemed all too familiar. Mockingbird Lane. The Trade Mart. Dealey Plaza. Texas School Book Depository. Oswald. Ruby. The triple overpass. J.D. Tippit. Parkland Hospital.

The effect is still chilling.

I drove the Mockingbird Lane route taken by the president’s entourage that fateful day, moving from Love Field through the downtown streets. I walked the peaceful sidewalks of Main Street, looked at the modernistic tribute by Phillip Johnson at JFK Memorial Plaza, shuttled through a serene Dealey Plaza, listened to two Frenchmen reading the inscription on a monument.

I looked down toward the overpass, past the infamous grassy knoll. My imagination recreated the scenes I had seen years before.

Then I stared at the sixth floor window in what was then the Texas School Book Depository. It was eerie. Spooky. Unreal.

It became more so inside the JFK Museum a few feet away from the one time depository.

Oversized reproductions of newspapers around the country hang on the museum lobby walls. The words they used to describe the event were different, but each offered the same meaning. Kennedy murdered, read one. John Kennedy now belongs to the ages, read another. President slain by Dallas sniper, read still another.

Seeing the words and pictures was akin to stepping back into a nightmare, a thought intensified by a film and model of the city that helped detail the entire occasion, tracing the president’s winding path through a series of blinking lights.

The crowd inside the theater was interesting. Two or three dozen people. Midday businessmen, for the most part, in three-piece suits. Sitting on carpeted tiers. At near attention. Silent. Almost reverent.

A narrative told the story. Kennedy in Dallas to generate support for a probable re-election attempt. Greeted by huge, adoring crowds at Love Field. Flanked by thousands en route to the Trade Mart, site of his speech. Charismatic smile. Continuous wave. Stopped the motorcade to shake hands with children at an intersection. Accompanied by his wife, the beautiful Jackie in what was to become a never-to-be-forgotten pink dress.

It all seemed so sudden as the blinking lights neared the tragic scene. I felt my pulse quicken. My anticipation and anxiety were keen. I wanted to halt the lights in hopes of eliminating what we all knew would happen next.

Shots rang out. Bursts of light filled the theater. It was like being part of a haunting history. Real, yet unreal. Exciting, but traumatic.

Chaos followed. Shrill sirens broke the air. Confusion set in. People dove to the ground or scattered. Shrieks of fear accompanied all. Cars sped away. Commentators groped for words. It was awful…then worse.

There was the funeral that followed, like solemn pageantry. A rider less horse. Tearful people, men and women. Somber faces. Flowers and more flowers. John-John’s farewell salute. A woman’s courage that touched a nation. The vision of Jack Ruby’s gun thrust near the stomach of Oswald as millions watched on television. Thoughts of the irony that accompanied the deaths of Kennedy and Lincoln. Memories of Kennedy’s meaningful quotes.

Watching, 18 years later, we sat in stunned silence, staring for moments at a blank screen when the film had run its course. Even now, it seems so senseless. Such a waste.

That it affected us all then was obvious. That a sense of pain lingers is equally so, just as it is that the city of Dallas wishes the bad dream would somehow go away.

I have occasional difficulty remembering the date of my wedding anniversary, the birthdays of close friends and key moments of my professional career.

But Nov. 22, 1963 and its tragedy is etched in my mind. Forever.

edarling@duncanbanner.com

(580) 255-5354, Ext. 130

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Governor, state Legislature have misplaced priorities

    If the Oklahoma State Legislators and our Governor spent less time interfering in women’s rights to manage their bodies, creating ways to lay more taxes and fees on the middle class in order to generate more tax breaks which benefit only the wealthy while also conceiving methods with which to fill Oklahoma’s for-profit prisons, they would be doing all of us a favor. Instead, why not work to enhance funding for our schools and wage increases for all school employees? While reforming the state’s educational budget, why don’t they approve wage increases for our Oklahoma State Troopers and enlarge their Academy to insure qualified individuals are ready to fill the upcoming vacancies as many of the older force retire?

    April 9, 2014

  • Self government key to keeping politicians in check

    Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that federal campaign laws that limit the total amount of money donors can give to political parties, committees and candidates for federal office (U.S. House, Senate, and President) was unconstitutional. The ruling will not increase the current $2,600 limit on how much a donor can give to a federal candidate in each primary and general election or the $32,400 limit that can go to a national party committee. Those limits are still in place.  The ruling will instead remove the limit on how many candidates/committees to which a donor can contribute.

    April 9, 2014

  • Legislative goals crucial to priorities in education

    I am a member of several professional organizations where I attend regular meetings, network with colleagues, and stay abreast and informed on education best practices.  The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, better known as CCOSA, is a nonprofit organization that establishes close and continuous communication and cooperation between educators, taxpayers, and legislators to improve the effectiveness of professional school administrators and to communicate the needs of schools. Attendance this time of year is especially critical because legislators are in session.

    March 28, 2014

  • An impressive ranking that could be better

    That Duncan was named one of the best 15 communities in Oklahoma by Movoto, a national Real Estate company, is news worth celebrating.
    Of 43 places with population of 10,000 or more, as determined by the U.S. Census data, Duncan finished 15th. Norman was first, Edmond second, Yukon and Moore tied for third and Bethany was fifth.

    March 9, 2014

  • Kids shouldn’t have to pay for having punster parents

    Friends and neighbors, I’ve been cloistered in my Thought Chamber for the past few days, contemplating many high-brow philosophies and haughty hypothesis that we who think on a different level use to exercise our finely-tuned minds and remain intellectually superior to the Great Unwashed.
    As you see, the time alone has been intellectually beneficial. I just composed an opening sentence (what we in the journalism dodge call a “lead”) that’s 46 words long.

    March 9, 2014

  • The blissful serenity of No-TV Land

    Life without TV is possible. Maybe you should try it. I did. It’s a do-able thing, I tell you. I’m still here, no worse the wear, no oozing wounds, no serious loss of brainwave activity except for the slow, inexorable downhill decline that already started when TV viewing was a daily occurrence.

    Granted, two months without the tube is quite likely not a scientifically acceptable sample from which is to hold forth. But it’s the best I can do, so deal with it.

    March 9, 2014

  • Cooper’s message is to remain active

    Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the Dallas physician who coined the phrase “aerobics” more than four decades ago, who has become a world leader in physical fitness and who has saved, literally, thousands of lives by promoting the value of an active lifestyle, shared his philosophy of life here last week.

    March 9, 2014

  • Time to take the “B” out of the “Three R’s”

    Our young folks are hitting the stretch drive toward the end of another school year, during which they’ve been taught “Three R’s”, which are not really “r’s” at all.
    In case you missed it, reading is the only one of the “Three R’s” that actually begins with the letter “r.” Writing starts with a “w” and arithmetic begins with the letter “a.” There are two reasons we drop the “w” from “writing” and the “a” from “arithmetic”: 1. For poetic flow in the age-old saying; and, 2. many people have a secret yen to talk like the Beverly Hillbillies.

    February 23, 2014

  • Thank you for lettin’ me be myself again

    Friends and neighbors, hope I don’t sound like the biggest egomaniac since Donald Trump, but you know, I am the most interesting person I’ve ever known.
    Forgive me if — on first blush — that sounds like the most totally self-aggrandizing statement you’ve ever heard. And if you’ve headed to the restroom to express an editorial opinion about the statement above, I’ll stop for a couple minutes.

    February 15, 2014

  • Buzz misfired in Vanity Fair body slam of Duncan

    As the new kid in town, I’m reluctant to leap atop the ramparts to defend the honor of Duncan, Okla., my new adopted hometown.
    But to heck with that. When an out-of-towner comes into your house and soils your rug, it’s on.
    I speak, of course, about the article in Vanity Fair magazine about Duncan and the  killing last year of Chris Lane, the Australian who was gunned down in August.

    January 24, 2014