The Norman Transcript

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October 12, 2013

Dallas’ changes, Kennedy’s death explored in book

OKLAHOMA CITY — Fifty years ago, this coming November, will mark a time in United State’s history that was dominated by post-war baby boom teenagers and movement away from the conservative fifties. “To Kill A Mockingbird” was published in 1960. College campuses became scenes of protest. The Civil Rights movement made great changes in society. And President John F. Kennedy was shot to death on Nov. 22, 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald.

Young and charismatic, JFK’s short time as president is still revered and referred to by many as a sort of Camelot. Such idealism of JFK, along with his assassination, has haunted those alive at the time of his assassination to the present day. Stephen Fagin, author of “Assassination and Commemoration: JFK, Dallas, and The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza,” said his book was inspired by the shock and mourning of JFK’s death he saw manifested in his parents, who were elementary children in Dallas at the time of the shooting.

“Assassination and Commemoration” recounts the painful process by which Dallas and the nation came to terms with its collective memory of the assassination and its aftermath. Fagin explained that his book is different from other books about JFK’s assassination because the assassination is just the beginning of the story he tells. The book focuses on the decade-long work of people determined to shake the shame that followed Dallas after the assassination, and the transformation of the Texas School Book Depository in Dealy Plaza from a blight on the city to a sacred memorial.

“The political atmosphere in Dallas at the time of the shooting was volatile. People thought Dallas was a city of hate,” Fagin said. “The transformation of the depository into a museum was a long process. The museum founders, Conover Hunt and Lindalyn Adams, faced opposition from those who said the building could be nothing but a shrine to Oswald to historic preservation hurdles to even DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) wanting to build a line through the area.”

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