Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Lost Everything

Today is the 48th anniversary of the assasination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.

I missed seeing an interesting special on the National Geographic channel Sunday night.  "JFK-The Lost Bullet" is going to be rerun this Sunday morning but I won't be able to catch it then either.

However, I was able to watch a special (first aired in 2009), "The Lost JFK Tapes" that featured tapes of WFAA (a Dallas TV station )news broadcasts the day of the assasination and of the next few days.  That is what I loved the most about this special - instead of rehashing the famous tapes of Walter Cronkite losing his composure while announcing the horrible news, we got to see a local station where the shooting occurred.  Live, and in black and white.

We got to see the people gathered at the luncheon Kennedy was on his way to, sitting there as the minutes ticked by and no Kennedy.  In today's day the people in that room would have known what happened in minutes - certainly someone would have been on Twitter or Facebook, or someone at the scene would have texted someone at the luncheon.  But in those days they were clueless, those people, and you saw the reaction when someone announced the assasination to them.

We saw a WFAA program director state, on air, state that Dallas was ashamed.

We saw the horrified expressions of people on the street.  We saw reporters interviewing people on the street, who expressed their shame and their hope that citizens of the United States would not blame Dallas for the terrible event.

And, in a moment that made me gasp, we saw the WFAA program director introduce a middle aged balding man who had brought some film to the station.  His name was Abraham Zapruder.  THE Abraham Zapruder.  And someone was interviewing him, live! I was just a child when this assassination occurred, and I've seen the "Zapruder" film over and over again.  Now, I saw, for (I think) the first time, the man, in the moment of his filming made public, in his first interview.  Could he ever have imagined how his day would unfold, as he stood there and filmed?

Today, of course, there would have been hundreds of videos from cell phone cameras.

I saw the new coverage featuring the assassination, in turn, of the accused assassin.  But not just the shooting, but action in other parts of the building.

This is history come to life.  I saw the hair styles, the way people dressed, the way people reacted.

I was there.

This is true living history. Painful history but a history seared into my memory and the memory of everyone my age.   At least these tapes (if they were ever truly lost) are now found.  They were submitted for our approval.

I approve.

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