Hundreds gather in Dealey Plaza in Dallas to remember 45th anniversary of JFK assassination


by By SCOTT FARWELL / The Dallas Morning News

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 11:15 AM

Something stirs inside Ken Fuston every Nov. 22.

An 'X' marks the spot where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza. Crowds gathered there Saturday, 45 years later, to commemorate the event.

It's a feeling of melancholy, something like emptiness, when the anniversary of the murder of President John F. Kennedy rolls around. So on Saturday, as he's done for more years than he can remember, the 74-year-old got in his car and drove to Dallas, about an hour north of his home in Enchanted Oaks to Dallas.

He stood alone under an archway at Dealey Plaza, out of the wind and away from the annual spectacle that drew more than 300 spectators on a chilly and overcast day.

"I'm not very good with words," said the retired lab technician for Southwestern Laboratories. "In my lifetime, other than Pearl Harbor, this was the most important thing that happened."

Forty-five years ago, at about 12:30 p.m., the presidential motorcade approached the Texas School Book Depository and turned down Elm Street. Soon after, Lee Harvey Oswald fired three famous shots, which continued to echo in Dealey Plaza on Saturday.

Vendors sold books, music CDs and postcards. Hundreds of people snapped photos, and others sought answers.

Mr. Fuston said he doesn't know exactly why he makes the pilgrimage. Maybe it's out of respect.

"It's just gotten to be a habit to be here each year," he said. "As long as I'm available and I'm alive, I'll keep coming."

It was 21-year-old Ben Lawrence's first time to visit on Nov. 22. Mr. Lawrence, who wore a blue T-shirt with the words "Tyranny Response Team," said he believes federal agencies were responsible for the assassination of JFK.

"There was a conspiracy, for sure," the Mesquite resident said. "There's no way Oswald could have squeezed off three shots in six seconds at a target that was down and away."

A few minutes later, Kaye Bartlett of Lansing, Mich., stood at the JFK Memorial at the corner of Market and Commerce streets. The 30-foot high concrete walls and simple granite memorial with the name John Fitzgerald Kennedy were created to inspire contemplation.

"There was a lot of excitement in theories after it happened," she said. "But to me, none of them ever seemed very definitive. So I'm like a lot of people - I'm not sure what happened."

Across the street at El Centro College, an exhibit invited people to consider what has happened after the assassination. One used unclaimed human remains from crematoriums to create a work titled, "death of a Flame, 1963 + 16,065 days."

"When you go down to the plaza, there's no real memorial there, except an X mark on the road," said Eddy Rawlinson, director of the H. Paxton Moore Fine Art Gallery. "What we're doing here is considering, 'What did this mean in terms of power, politics, people's willingness to change ideologies, and what does it mean to be an American?' "