Watch CBS News

DFW Moments: JFK Assassination Brings Darkness To Dallas History

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - An 'X' marks the spot in the middle of Elm Street. It is an infamous mark that left an indelible scar in the heart of Dallas. To this day, tourists like to stand on it to capture photographs.

"It is as vivid as yesterday," said Pierce Allman. He sees November 22, 1963 from a different perspective.

Then 29-year-old Allman was a radio newsman, joining the throngs of Dallasites at Dealey Plaza for a glimpse of the presidential motorcade. "There was a great air of excitement," he recalled.

JFK - Sixth Floor Museum
(credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

People were anticipating a bright moment... when three shots rang out, fading hope into darkness.

Chaos followed. At the president's shooting, as the motorcade sped away, Allman raced to the building across the street: the School Book Depository Building. He asked a man at the door where he could find a phone, intending to call in the news. "We just looked at each other and I said, 'Where's a phone?' He said, 'In there,'" Allman remembered.

Two weeks later, when the secret service interviewed Allman, he learned that the man was Lee Harvey Oswald. "I had the feeling that that was going to become sort of a part of my life. And I couldn't help but think a little bit of a 'What if?'" Allman said.

What if? It's emotional for him, 54 years later. It took nearly that long for the City of Dallas to face its own struggle.

"You had the president killed in downtown Dallas. For so many people around the world, the reaction was, 'Oh, Dallas, that's where things like this happen,'" said Stephen Fagin, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum.

The Sixth Floor Museum is a place where people seek understanding today. The exhibit ends on President John F. Kennedy's legacy which, Fagin said, helps do the memory justice. "Dallas pushed ahead, because that's what this city does," Fagin added.

JFK 50 Years
People watch a historical boradcast about the life of former President John F. Kennedy near Dealey Plaza on November 22, 2013 in Dallas, Texas. (credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The 50th anniversary memorial service in 2014 was a big stride. Citizens and dignitaries stood in the cold and the rain. It was the first public acknowledgement that this is Dallas history. "From the moment of the assassination to the moment 50 years later, when Dallas is able to embrace and internalize this dark moment, and reflect on it the way any good city would," Fagin explained.

"We're a city of growth and diversity now but, as you can see, it is still a major attraction," Allman said.

The city continues moving forward, but not without considering the past. Just like the people standing in the street. "The impact on Dallas will be eternal," Allman said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.