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Dateline Dallas

November 22, 2013

For the past month, there's been a heavy dose of television programs, film footage, and recollections devoted to that fateful day in Dallas 50 years ago when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

The re-broadcasts have been riveting and to this day most people cannot get enough of the facts and circumstances of the November 22, 1963 shooting of JFK.

There's very little new information about the assassination and many observations are skewed by time and memory. Some are rewriting things a bit, not so much from an agenda, but from the natural blurring of memory and facts after all these years.

It's interesting to watch the reaction of newsmen who covered the assassination 50 years ago. Some were visibly shaken while reporting the story, and while the difficulties of covering death and tragedy is understandable, it seemed wrong that some were so distraught on camera.

It was surprising there were no news cameras assigned to the parade route. It may be argued that technology had not caught up with the times, but Abraham Zapruder, a local dry cleaner from Dallas, understood the importance of capturing important moments on film, and thankfully for history and science, he did.

Still, millions tuned in during the four days after the assassination and television did come of age from that point forward.

As for the United States Secret Service and the Dallas police, not much good can be said. President John F. Kennedy was vulnerable that day and it's difficult to say that either did their job well. The President was riding in an open car with agents riding in a car behind him. They were not in position to take any action to avert the act of a lone gunman from one of the many rooftops or open windows along the motorcade route in Dallas.

There were numerous reports in Dallas of political unrest prior to the President's visit and still the Secret Service took no added precautions to protect the President. Nor did the Dallas police. Both can only be viewed as ringside spectators that day in Dallas.

The assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of the police station was also senseless. The Dallas police were so concerned with accommodating the media that a circus atmosphere prevailed inside the police station. Security for Oswald was severely compromised and the country lost any hope for closure or of piecing together the reason for the assassination.

The events remain distasteful, especially for those old enough to have watched them on television. Closure may never be achieved - until an entire generation - those who were alive and remember the tragedy unfolding - are no longer with us.