DALLAS, TEXAS -- At the Dallas Museum of Art, a massive Robert Rauschenberg collage titled Skyway will catch any visitor's eye -- a bold combination of colours and arresting pop culture images are a brief summary of the early 1960s and one man: John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
As president, Kennedy's popularity grew beyond the borders of the United States, with the world swept into a love affair with the youngest man ever elected president and his wife, Jackie, who became an instant style icon.
"Geography has made us neighbours. History has made us friends" - JFK
Canadians were just as enthralled with the Kennedy fever and when the president came north in May 1961, 50,000 Ottawa residents lined the street to greet him. Invited to address Parliament, Kennedy spoke about the relationship of Canada and the United States: "Geography has made us neighbours. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies."
Fifty years ago the city of Dallas was excited for a visit from the 35th president of the United States and his wife. Already working on getting re-elected, Kennedy was on a whistle-stop tour through Texas, driving into downtown Dallas to greet residents.
But instead of a luncheon with dignitaries, Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, and the country and the world went into shock. In modern-day Dallas, home to one of the largest arts districts in the United States, and an urban centre that welcomes travellers from around the world, it's a legacy that will be commemorated this week on November 22 with the 50th anniversary of the death of JFK.
For visitors to Dallas, there are several places to learn and remember Kennedy, starting with the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza. A simple cenotaph designed by Philip Johnson and dedicated in 1970 by the City of Dallas, the white cement walls appear to float while surrounding a stone plaque engraved with Kennedy's name in gold. No matter what time during the day, the solitary structure is a place for quiet contemplation and reflection.
The memorial is a block from the Dealey Plaza Historic District, a downtown park and now a National Historic Landmark District. It's home to two notorious places: the "grassy knoll," where some conspiracy theorists believe a hidden gunman fired shots that killed Kennedy and the Texas School Book Depository, the building where Lee Harvey Oswald stood on its sixth floor and shot JFK.
Story by Waheeda Harris, Vacay.ca writer.
To read the rest of the story and learn about JFK landmarks in Dallas that you can visit, click here.