For nearly five decades, much has changed near the intersection of 10th Street and Patton Avenue. Many of the wood frame homes that lined the streets in 1963 are gone, replaced by newer brick houses, and the expansion of Adamson High School now covers three corners.
But, for all that time, one aspect of the location never changed: There has been no official recognition that Dallas police Officer J.D. Tippit died in the line of duty as he tried to stop Lee Harvey Oswald.
Including the building where Oswald was shot, other locations connected to President John F. Kennedy's assasination in Dallas were granted historical status by federal, state or city governments and received the ensuing attention from those designations. However, that has not been the case at 10th Street and Patton Avenue.
That was until Tuesday. At 1 p.m. at the intersection, the Dallas Independent School District, Dallas Police Department and the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League will dedicate a Texas Historical Commission marker to forever remember Tippit’s sacrifice.
The opportunity might have slipped away except for the quick action of people who care about their community, history and the injustice of the ignored significance of what Tippit did that day.
After my 2010 news story pointing out this long lapse of attention, the Conservation League, led by Michael Amonett, applied to the state for a marker. Farris Rookstool, a former consultant to the Sixth Floor Museum and former FBI analyst, submitted the narrative of what happened. The Texas Historical Foundation with the help of its president at the time, Tom Doell of Dallas, donated $5,000 for the marker that the state approved.
Most important, DISD and trustee Eric Cowan saw the educational and historical importance of the location right there at the edge of their new high school campus and set aside space on the northeast corner.
We’ll never know what Officer Tippit was thinking that day, but we know his actions. He said goodbye to his wife and young family, went off to do his job and because he did it, the president’s assassin was caught.
Where every officer falls is sacred. But, the circumstances of that day, frozen in history, make 10th and Patton unique.
Tippit’s widow, Marie, told me in 2010 that she would love to see a marker there. There had been talk in the mid-1960s of some kind of remembrance, she said, but it faded. She’ll be at the Tuesday dedication.
She has never forgotten what happened at 10th and Patton. Now, the rest of us, along with future generations, will remember too.