Honoring the legacy of JFK, 50 years later


Fifty years ago, on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas.

The city of Dallas is remembering that day with a ceremony at the same spot where the president was shot twice during a motorcade en route from Love Field to a speaking engagement.

Nearly 50 years later, we're still left with the Grassy Knoll, the sixth-floor window, the two Xs in the middle of the street marking the spots of fatal gunshots.

"It's kinda creepy in a way, but it's history you know," tourist Jenny Peterson said.

A place Dallas once would just have soon hidden from the world, the city has long since embraced Dealey Plaza, expecting --inviting really -- the curious to come see it for themselves.

JFK's assassination still draws the attention of people from all over the world. This spot, here in Dealey Plaza, is actually the second most-visited tourist spot in the state, behind the Alamo.

Carleen Hilaszek, from Chicago, was 10 years old in November 1963.

"Seeing it as a child, it impacted me so much that I had to see and witness this," Hilaszek said.

Kentucky resident William Themann's grandmother used to tell him he looked like a young JFK.

"It's, uh, I don't know, kinda awesome," Themann said. "It's where history was made."

There are trolley tours of the motorcade route that day, markers that explain the location and timeline of events.

"I was horrified and in tears," Dallas resident Stephanie Ritchie said.

Ritchie remembers the day like it was yesterday. A Dallas native, she's come here often, bringing out of town guests to see.

"It's well kept, it is maintained. The integrity and the authenticity of it is there. And I'm quite proud of what the city has done," she said.

And ahead of this 50th anniversary, the city is giving the plaza a facelift to put a shiny light on what is one of the darkest days in our nation's history. A place people come to learn, to reflect, and still, five decades later, to mourn.

To mark the anniversary, Eyewitness News anchors Dave Ward and Tom Abrahams will continue reporting from Dallas.

You'll hear from people who were there at Dealey Plaza 50 years ago, from people who knew the president and from those working hard to keep JFK's legacy alive.

Find Tom on Facebook at TomAbrahams or on Twitter at @tomabrahams

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