John F Kennedy Memorial Plaza
A Somber Memorial
On June 24, 1970, accomplished American architect Philip Johnson designed this memorial in the form of an “open tomb” or a cenotaph. Many feel this to be a simplistic or even inadequate memorial, unfitting for such a dear president.
However, the symbolism and his intentions are misunderstood. This open tomb that seems to float above the ground is a perfect representation of John F. Kennedy’s free spirit. There is no statue or photo of President Kennedy. There is only the abstract concept. Very simple, seemingly bare-boned, and unrealized in its potential, perhaps even the phrase “Could have been more” on many visitors’ minds is the message of this memorial.
In this busy plaza filled with auditory pollution of the road traffic, walking into this tomb from one of the narrow openings in the direction of north and south suddenly gives you a more quiet atmosphere. In the absence of all distraction, you can only find one verbal message carved onto the side of a slab of granite square in the middle of the memorial and painted in gold, reading “John Fitzgerald Kennedy”. The man whose assassination changed the United States of America and the world forever. This sudden isolation from all the distractions is a gift to the visitors, who are encouraged to think and reflect the event, rather than be impressed or amused by artistry or architecture.
This square, roofless room is merely 30 feet high and 50 by 50 feet wide. It consists of 72 bright white concrete columns held together 29 inches above the ground by a seemingly “magnetic force” as the architect called it, perhaps referring to this extraordinary man’s charm. Only eight of the columns extend to the ground and actually hold it up. The rest end in light fixtures that shine at night.
However, many felt this interpretive memorial was not enough to explore the assassination of former president of the USA . This prompted the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza to exist.
The Texas School Book Depository adjacent to the memorial, now called Dallas County Administration Building, is a seven-floor building that faces Dealy Plaza, where it all happened. The sixth floor of this building was Lee Harvey Oswald’s sniping vantage point, where he carried out the assassination on November 22, 1963, shortly after noon, a time in which he worked at the depository. Just 30 minutes after this shooting, Kennedy died at the Parkland Memorial Hospital.
The investigation of the assassination was commissioned by President Lyndon B. Johnson and carried out by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. A conclusion was reached, and to this day, the official record states that Oswald had acted alone and that at least three shots were fired and two of those three shots hit Kennedy. Regardless of or even despite this conclusion, there has been no end to the conspiracy theories surrounding his assassination. They have and will probably continue to endure in perpetuity. The suspects of these conspiracies are often powerful entities such as Cuba, Russia, or even America’s very own Central Intelligent Agency.
The Sixth Floor
On 1989 President’s day, the sixth floor opened to the public as the Sixth Floor Museum. A visit there will be very informative to most of us, who have not lived those times or weren’t old enough to remember it.
In this plaza, many memories rush back to the surface for those old enough to have experienced it. This minimalist memorial is a quiet and haunted space for them. Inside the floor of the building where Oswald shot Kennedy, you can find out much about the event. The entirety of the story is presented by recording. And you can view the room and the window form where he took aim. After the investigation, it has been left as it was found.
After your visit, you can wander over the Grassy Knoll, where he was fatally shot. Now with the entire event described to you, you can close your eyes there and envision the scenery, the thousands of people that gathered, the motorcade he rode, and the extinguishing of life that followed.
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