Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Hill of Great Speculation

I've mentioned several times that I pass Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll twice a day on my regular commute to and from work. So I guess it will come as a shock to no one that it's one of the more interesting places that I find my mind focusing on each day.

I know that for many people, this location only serves as one of the most horrific moments in our country's history, and I respect that thought. The first time I visited it, it quite honestly gave me chills. I stood there in the spot where that pivotal moment in our history occurred and the World honestly went silent for me. My Lord, what Jackie must have felt in that moment? The gut wrenching chaos that followed is surreal to imagine when you're standing there in this place that seems as large as a football field in the videos we all watched at school. The reality is though that Dealey Plaza is a very small, one block radias that butts up against downtown Dallas and the West End on one side and a major freeway on the other. It's a very claustrophobic, beautifully landscaped space in which the entire World suddenly changed course over 40 years ago.

It's here in that tiny space of downtown Dallas that I enjoy some of my most favorite people watching on a daily basis. Even in the still early moments of most weekday mornings, as the city is just barely starting to come to life, there are already visitors covering the grounds of Dealey Plaza. You'll see them, mostly in small groups, moving from location to location; trying to get just the right view.

On the North side of the Plaza, where the Grassy Knolls lays, you'll find them feet away from the bronze land marker, gazing up at the rust colored building on the Northeast corner. Collectively they sort out the pieces of information that they have gathered over the years and develop their own conclusions.

Each afternoon I chuckle as I see this one gentleman out there with his television around which, a small crowd is always gathered. A video of the assassination plays on a loop on the television. What does he tell him, I wonder? The crowd is always very respectfully engaged as he points to the screen, then to the rust colored building, and continues his story as his arms remain in constant motion the entire time.

Once in a while you'll see a single person, typically sitting across the street from the Grassy Knoll, just gazing at it. I never see a single person sitting on the hill itself; they always seem to sit across the street, as if out of respect for the hill and what it stands for. For these single people, this visit appears as more of a spiritual journey than an opportunity for speculation, as it is for the smaller groups that move from point to point throughout the Plaza.

There are two things I've noticed about Dealey Plaza over the years. First, you never see people displaying outward hostility there. Even if, within the varied clumps of spectators with their differing opinions, they debate and discuss in a very calm fashion. The second is that I have never found one drop of graffiti or trash on the grounds. And no, I never see any cleaning crews. One of the most trafficked spots for visitors in Dallas, Texas and nothing ever seems out of place. Why is this? Why are people able to discuss such a volitial topic with calm respectfulness and keep such a highly visited place in such pristine condition?

Considering our daily lives, drives and political views spawn moments of hostility and the inability to see another's point of view, I wonder what it is about this place that provides such magical guidance. Noticing all the trash along freeways and streets that community groups and inmates are often relegated to picking up, why is it that this place remains in a constant state of beauty?

I'd like to think that Dealey Plaza, this place of such a horrific moment in time, embodies the dreams and hopes of one man and an entire generation. For in this place, everyone is equal, all thoughts and opinions are welcomed and considered, and everyone respects and does their part to maintain the beauty that is around all of us. I'd like to believe that in this place, a man didn't just die, but rather, still lives on to guide us all.

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