John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza Marker
This marker is located at the JFK Memorial, a “cenotaph”, or open tomb, which commemorates John F. Kennedy, the nation’s thirty-fifth president, who was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The plaza was dedicated on June 24, 1970. In 1999, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza undertook management of the monument. This museum is located on the floor of the old Texas School Book Deposity building where it is believed Lee Harvey Oswald took the shots that killed President Kennedy. The alleged sniper’s perch at the sixth floor window is preserved as part of the museum.
Backstory and Context
Kennedy’s political trip to Texas was part of attempts to relieve tension in the Democratic Party between liberals Ralph Yarborough and Don Yarborough (the last names are coincidental, they are of no relation) and conservative John Conally. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the murder of a police officer and was then charged with killing JFK. Oswald was an employee of the Texas School Book Depository, where it’s believed the shots were fired. Oswald denied having committed both crimes for which he was accused, claiming he’d been framed. Nightclub operator Jack Ruby killed Oswald before he could be tried. It was widely believed that Ruby was deeply involved with organized crime in the area. Oswald had served as a US Marine before defecting to the Soviet Union in October 1959 and returned to the US in June 1942.
The following investigation into Kennedy’s death is controversial and to this day the conspiracy theories that arose surrounding the events of President Kennedy’s death are widely believed. A poll in November of 2013 indicated that 61% of Americans believed there’d been a conspiracy to kill JFK and 74% thought there’d been a cover up. According to this poll, only 30% believed Oswald did it alone, which was the official conclusion of the Warren Commission. Kennedy’s Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was sworn into office upon JFK’s death, created this commission to investigate the assassination. However, the later 1979 US House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that it believed a conspiracy was involved in the President’s assassination; however, the committee was unable to identify the other gunmen or the breadth of the conspiracy.