50 Novembers: Parkland remembers the death of a president

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on November 22, 2013 at 7:16 PM

DALLAS -- A brief prayer and a ceremonial lowering of the American flag commemorated Parkland Hospital's role in tragic history.

"We wanted to remember the men and women who were here that day,” explained Linda Wilkerson, director of pastoral care. “[People] that came to work, never imagining in a million years that they were going to be caring for a president that was mortally wounded, or a governor that was severely injured, or their families who were so wounded in spirit."

Trauma Room 1, where doctors tended to the fatally-wounded president, exists now only in pictures. Dismantled decades ago for hospital expansion, only a sign in a radiology waiting room marks the famous spot where President John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead.

The contents of the room itself have been long boxed up and carted off to a federal warehouse.

Only a handful of medical staff at Parkland that dark day survive today.

"It wasn't until I walked out of the room that I realized the enormity of this,” recalled Dr. Ron Jones, the former chief resident in surgery who worked on JFK.

"It was history,” said Dr. Norman Borge, a former medical resident who interacted with Mrs. Kennedy in the emergency room, “and I happened to be there."

Their memories and photographs are all that remain of Parkland's part, along with the mission to save every life -- from the president to the poor.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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