Fort Worth Honors JFK Without Trampling on Free Speech. How Do Those Guys Do it?

Categories: Schutze

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Work has started on the Fort Worth JFK tribute, a memorial plaza to be dominated by a larger-than-life statue of President John F. Kennedy with his hand extended for a friendly shake. What a difference a half-hour drive makes.

When complete, the Fort Worth memorial will serve as stark contrast to the one in Dallas -- an inscrutable Phillip Johnson-designed concrete bunker modeled on a German war memorial but puffed up bigger to look like a urinal for French giants.

Isn't it remarkable that the president who was killed in our city is still so invisible here? Maybe Fort Worth can afford to look at him without feeling guilty.

I wonder what the Kennedy family's relationship with the Fort Worth tribute will be? Will they show up? You know they won't touch Dallas, The Sixth Floor Museum or its director, Nicola Longford, with a 10-foot pole -- a posture I have always admired.

With the 50th anniversary of the assassination coming up next year, Longford and the Sixth Floor are in league with the city of Dallas to achieve a virtual clamp-down on speech at Dealey Plaza during the week of the anniversary, a move in line with their habit of seeking the arrest and jailing of anybody who expresses a non-sanctioned or unofficial view of the assassination.

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National Archives
Kennedy in Fort Worth
Even though by now most of us probably think Oswald did it, the people who think otherwise are still interesting. But not to The Sixth Floor. The message of that institution is loud and clear: Nobody from Dallas did it, and nobody better say we did.

I assume that's why The Sixth Floor applied for and the city granted them a license to take over Dealey Plaza completely for the week of the anniversary, even though they have yet to say what they plan to do with it.

It's not just that other people won't be allowed to occupy Dealey Plaza and make speeches. Other groups that wanted to observe a moment of silence have already been told the moments of silence are all taken. They can't even go out there and stay mum.

At any rate, once again Fort Worth is showing itself to be an open-handed, genial kind of place, while Dallas, once again, is going to look like a clenched-fist, teeth-gritting jerk. There's nothing to do about it. It's destiny.


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31 comments
John Watson
John Watson

Well Jim, you still seem to have everything backward again. It's not Dallas who's interfering with anyone's Rights.  It's the carnies and the tin foil hat crowd that has been disrupting Free Speech for the last fifty years. Dallas is trying to have a dignified ceremony  to commemorate a serious affair. A dignity which has been sadly lacking in Dealey Plaza by fraudsters who happily shout down any opposing facts. Here's hoping the city government can pull off an event the citizens can be proud of instead of the horrifying embarassment that was the fortieth

Jerryflynn
Jerryflynn

As a Kennedy supporter and a historical advocate of American History, I plan on finally going to see not only Dealy Plaza, but the Sixth Floor of the Texas School Book Depository as well. I am a little confused as to why the outrage about the historical significance of the Sixth Floor. In fact, Washington, D.C. does the same thing with respect to Ford's Theater and President Lincoln' assassination. Actually, they also show the escape route and the rooming house across the street where Lincoln died is also a museum. Perhaps, time does heal all wounds - but after almost 50 years this one is still hard to close!

Jay
Jay

I wonder how Fort Worth officials will react when Jim's favorite author of all things to do with Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories sets up his folding table in front of the statue and lays out his pamphlets and books, and then starts hawking his wares to the visitors. Free speech and all, don't you know.

And I still wonder whether Jim's favorite author has ever paid any city sales tax for the all of the merchandise his sells at Dealey Plaza, Dallas city property?

gooderisbetter
gooderisbetter

Memorials are always a funny thing to me. I always wonder what the dead think about them....I mean, when that Jesus dude comes back to pick up his faithful....do you really think the first thing he's gonna want to see is a cross?

PhilanderingMoustache
PhilanderingMoustache

I went to a Chris Botti concert at Bass Hall a few years ago. Guy comes out and does his thing. He gives a short speech, and says "thank you, Dallas!" I seriously thought that the audience members were going to grab their pitchforks and hang him in the square. Left such a bad impression that I've never been back.

Tgilmour
Tgilmour

I would like to address the comments regarding photography in Sundance Square.  We allow all types of photography in Sundance Square.  If it's commercial we like to have a conversation about it ahead of time.  If it's for personal use, snap away.  You will find our policy and our actions very friendly.  Photographic inquiries should be addressed to the Sundance Square office.

Andy T
Andy T

Brooke:  About the waiting 50 years.  Fort Worth did name the Convention Center Theater in tribute to JFK but that was torn down over a decade ago.  About that same time, a Dallas resident and JFK enthusiast started us on the path that led us to the current Tribute.  Unfortuately, 9/11 stopped a number of community efforts and this was one of them.  Four years ago, the project's time came once again.  The stars aligned and thanks to the leadership of the Gandys, the coorperation of the City and the generosity of the community, the project has been designed, funded and is now under construction.  

Andy Taft, Downtown Fort Worth, Inc.

Larry
Larry

I dislike the Dallas memorial, too, but I was under the impression that the Kennedy family was consulted during the design, and they insisted that it be stark, simple, not glorifying the event. Is that not true, Jim? The last thing Dallas wanted to do was cross the Kennedy's on their wishes here.

If that is true, what I don't understand is why this isn't explained on the marker in Dallas so people don't thing we short changed JFK on his memorial.

That said, now that 50 years has past, I think it would be appropriate for Dallas to honor JFK with a statue, but now it looks like FW has beat us to the punch.

james
james

i enjoyed my first visit to downtown fort worth in daylight as a tourist. why is downtown fort worth so cool lookin' and downtown dallas just looks so...scummy.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

This is why again I like Ft. Worth, they're a classy group of folks who are working to honor a great man. Instead of trying to cheapen it like the 6th floor museum or tying it to the public toliet the JFK memorial has become. 

I dislike saying this, but Dallas 50 years on is still a "City Of Hate"...

Brooke
Brooke

I see your point on the contrast of the two memorials, but shouldn't something be said to the fact that Fort Worth has waited 50 years to decide to build a memorial to JFK?

www.ebbybuildersales.com 

Gorgeous George
Gorgeous George

I appreciate the JFK Memorial in Dallas (maybe I'm one of the few).  It evokes an empty tomb and causes one to reflect on what was lost that day.  I wasn't alive at the time; but just last week I was drawn to it. Regardless of what the placard says, that memorial is not a celebration of JFK's life, it is clearly (to me at least) a meditation on his untimely death and what could have been.  Which is as it should be.

JimS
JimS

What if I don't got no stinking inquiry? What if I just want to exercise my constitutional right to take any god damn picture I want to in public?

Shutterbug
Shutterbug

One look at the photo says you were in a skywalk that links the two privately owned buildings, and is therefore private property as well. More info to pass along to fellow photogs in Fort Worth: it's only Sundance property that's so heavily guarded from For Profit photography, but anywhere outside Sundance is not enforced. The more you know...

JimS
JimS

Well, over there you've got sort of freebass speech: free speech as long as its ok with the bass family.

Scarlet Dallas
Scarlet Dallas

This is correct. In fact, it was Jackie who approved the design and my memory was that she specifically did not want a statue. It is ugly, but it is what the Kennedys wanted. Dallas honored that request. As much as I think this city is run by bumbling imbeciles this wasn't the case in the late 1960s. I suppose you can make the argument that we should build another memorial now, but the the 1970 memorial is kinda special in that it was built solely from donations from average Dallasites - no Perots or Hunts. Last time we will ever see that.

JRinDallas
JRinDallas

trees, fewer two-way/6 lane pseudo-highways running through its heart, and normal sized blocks...next question.

Ellum08
Ellum08

And again I ask, when are you going to move?

I think it is laughable to say the Sixth Floor is trying to 'cheapen' the event, when they are maybe trying to retain some dignity over what could easily become a Dealy Plaza three ring circus if no one gave a shit.  

But this is the Observer, so everything the City does is bad and Ft. Worth and Austin are the pinnacle of perfection and hipness. Carry on.

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

Don't laugh, but all this time I've been trying to figure out what "City of Ate" referenced. Now I know. Thanks.

Haretip
Haretip

Um, there was a theatre at the convention center that was dedicated to JFK and only demolished in 2000. I thought this statue was a replacement memorial.

JimS
JimS

nicely put. chaque a son gout.

Ellum08
Ellum08

Let's see....

The portion of downtown Ft. Worth that is actually vibrant (Sundance Square) could fit nice and neatly in our very own West End. Walk down to the their convention center hotel and tell me how 'cool lookin' the rest of downtown is. Or the area south of I-30.

A family that controls, and I mean CONTROLS, every single thing that happens in the one area of downtown that is actually vibrant.

Anything else?

Daniel
Daniel

I like Fort Worth, but next time you go out on the town there, look around. White white white. The races simply don't mix, pretty much at all. It's like Dallas in 1982 or something. Nice parks and zoo and stuff, and the people seem on the whole to be a bit nicer than in Dallas, but I'll pass on living in the largest red city in the U.S., thanks.

Daniel
Daniel

I'm in the camp that thinks the Johnson piece is too sad to even be monstrous (marble instead of concrete would have made a big difference), but I'd rather have a conceptual failure than something safely tasteful such as Fort Worthy has planned.

JimS
JimS

or as we say in Latin, Hey Unibus Gusto.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Haters got to hate, please adjust your beanie/fedora and jump in your 15 yo Bimmer..and have a kickass day! 

Ellum08
Ellum08

I stand corrected. Two cool areas, oops, forgot the cultural district, that's three!

CrackerDaddy
CrackerDaddy

Actually, checkout Magnolia St east of 8th St coming out of downtown -- pretty cool IMHO.

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