It is amazing to me how often we go through life without a proper appreciation of history. I must admit, I am guilty of it too. Having lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for a couple years, how many times had I driven down Elm Street downtown without ever realizing what monumental event took place there almost exactly 50 years ago? When a friend recommended a visit to The JFK “Sixth Floor Museum,” I knew it was a must-see. I was not disappointed.
For an event that occurred such a long time ago, stepping out of the elevator onto the sixth floor was like stepping back in time. Though I am a museum lover, this museum is unlike any I had experienced; it is a museum with a story to tell. Equipped with an interactive headset that allows you to take in the story at your own pace – and request more details about the things you find most intriguing – you are taken on a journey through the life of the 35th President.
About halfway through the journey, you are standing at the corner of the building, at the exact location where assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was perched on that fateful day in 1963. Encased in glass, that corner has been preserved and untouched over the years, with even the storage boxes that Oswald had used to prop up his rifle positioned as they had been that day. It was eerie to look through the same windows he did and imagine what the world must have looked like outside a half a century ago.
For someone who was not alive when the assassination of John F. Kennedy took place, I left the museum feeling as though I had lived through the events of that day. At the end of the journey, guest books are available for visitors to leave comments about how the exhibit impacted them, or reflections on their experience of that historic day. Reading through some of the comments gave me insight into what a monumental day in history it really was – with so many comments reflecting on the details engrained in their memory.
One of the comments read, “I was sitting in eighth grade science class when I heard the news that the president had been shot. It was a day the world stood still.”
For those who lived through the assassination of JFK, the museum will elicit powerful memories. For subsequent generations, the museum offers a riveting trip back in time, bringing history to life.