DALLAS (Reuters) - One year before the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, events and tributes are already beginning in the Dallas area to commemorate the slain U.S. president and a defining moment in American history.
The city announced this week that it would hold a memorial service at 12:30 p.m. local time on November 22, 2013, at Dealey Plaza, the precise time and place that Lee Harvey Oswald is believed to have shot Kennedy.
The service will be a departure for Dallas, which has generally shunned publicity of one of the darkest events in its history. Crowds gather every year on the anniversary of the assassination, but the last public ceremony was 20 years ago to recognize Dealey Plaza's listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
This week, a Texas historical marker was dedicated to Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit, whom Oswald shot to death in the Oak Cliff section of the city, shortly after the shooting of Kennedy during his motorcade parade in the nearby downtown area.
Tippit was on patrol when he spotted Oswald and stopped to question him. Witnesses told police that Oswald shot Tippit four times. Oswald was arrested a few blocks away in the Texas Theatre a short time later, Dallas police said.
"There is going to be a lot going on in Dallas next year at this time so we decided to do our tribute this year so it is not overshadowed," said Phil Leven, president of the Oak Cliff Conservation League, a grass-roots community organization. "Officer Tippit died in the line of duty, and we feel this is a good opportunity to raise awareness and give him the recognition he deserves." The marker at 10th and Patton streets is the spot where Tippit was killed.
Editor's Note: On that day I was in my High School Senior Government Class in Schenectady, New York. Ironically we were discussing what was the line of succession if the President was incapacitated and could not serve. As we discussed the possibility, the principal came over the intercom and announced that the President was shot! Stunned, for nearly 30 minutes in class you could have heard a pin drop. We quietly moved to our next class and the principal come back on the intercom sobbing said, " the President is Dead!" We were immediately sent home.