Reflections on Dallas

I'm in Dallas, Texas this week for a legal conference by WealthCounsel and its sister organization, ElderCounsel. It has been a good visit, and I have enjoyed connecting with all my friends and professional colleagues here.

I have to admit, however, that I always find Dallas a little spooky because of what took place here on November 22, 1963. I was 13 years old and was home sick from school. I was watching a TV show called "Trailmaster" on CBS when the awful news bulletin interrupted. I don't pretend that this event had any greater effect on me than it did on the rest of the shocked nation, only that as a boy in Boston, JFK was a hometown hero. What did I know about politics at that age? I only knew that he was "our" President the way the Red Sox were our baseball team. The blow seemed personal. 

Dallas means different things to different people. To a friend of mine from South Africa, it means the Ewings and all the trappings of the popular prime time soap opera she grew up watching in the 80s. To many rabid football fans, it means the home of the Cowboys (even though they are actually in Irving). To those of us interested in business and business philosophy, it is the home and birthplace of Neiman Marcus

But for me, sadly, Dallas will always be the place that John F. Kennedy was shot to death by a pathetic loser with a mail-order rifle. When I go to Dealy Plaza, there is a shock of recognition, as if I have stumbled upon an instantly recognizable movie set, or a landmark like Mount Rushmore. The School Book Depository building from which Lee Oswald fired his shots now houses a museum dedicated to the assassination. Standing in the plaza, your eyes are drawn to the corner window on the sixth floor, to the X on the street where the fatal shot hit, to the grassy knoll and the underpass, to the concrete block where Abraham Zapruder shot his famous film. It all looks like a miniature model that I have seen too many times before. 

Think what you like of JFK — liberal icon, a man who spoke with grace and wit, a serial philanderer — but on that day, a gifted young man, father to two small children, had his head blown off inches from his incredibly beautiful 34-year-old wife. It's a crime I can't forget as I grow older, and it's what I will always think of first when someone says "Dallas."