Will “The 50th”—as organizers call Dallas’ upcoming observance of the JFK assassination, 50 years ago this November—be a somber remembrance of a dark day in American history, or another chapter in the city’s long wrestling match with conspiracy theorists?
On paper, the scheduled ceremony has plenty of dignity: according to recent reports, the Dallas Symphony will perform on the morning of the 22nd at Dealey Plaza, where Kennedy was shot, followed by readings from the president’s speeches (by Presidential biographer David McCullough), a military flyover and a performance by the U.S. Naval Academy’s Glee Club. Area museums, such as the Sixth Floor Museum (in Dealey Plaza) and the Dallas Museum of Art, will be doing thoughtful exhibits.
But some folks in Dallas have been grumbling that the event will either whip up conspiracy theorists, or unnecessarily shut them out. In the past several months, the city has tried to clamp down on conspiracy-oriented vendors who operate (and who have allegedly hassled tourists) in Dealey Plaza; plus, the ceremony on the 22nd has been limited to just 5,000 attendees, whose names and Social Security numbers have supposedly been vetted by local police (other folks in the area can watch on giant TV screens). All of this, perhaps, just gives the conspiracy-minded folks more to talk about. And while the local JFK Conspiracy Museum might have had something to say about it all, it was replaced by a Quizno’s back in 2006.
If you want to step back in time—but do so away from the pro- or anti-conspiracy crowds at Dealey—you can book a stay at the Hilton Fort Worth, which is re-staging the Chamber of Commerce breakfast where the President spoke (when it was still called the Texas Hotel) just hours before the assassination. Without any irony or hoopla, the hotel is offering a bed-and-breakfast deal for that date starting at just $199 a night.