"From Dallas, Texas — the flash, apparently official, President Kennedy died at 1 p.m., Central Standard Time."
— Newscaster Walter Cronkite, choking back tears as he reads the bulletin handed to him during a live broadcast
DALLAS — I wasn't going to visit that place we've seen a thousand times in old, grainy newsreels. Forty-nine years later, what would be the point?
But driving through what locals call the West End Historic District, my wife looked at the map and said, "Dealey Plaza is only a couple of blocks that way."
It is said that Americans began to lose their innocence on that day in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
You know the rest. Within five years, Robert Kennedy, who seemed destined to follow his brother into the Oval Office, was murdered in Los Angeles, and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.was killed by a sniper in Memphis.
And there was Vietnam, a war that tore the country apart, and Watergate, a scandal that led to the resignation of a sitting president, Richard Nixon.
If you were born after 1963, this is only history, but for people who remember, people like me, the events were, in turn, shocking, heartbreaking and infuriating.
It isn't necessary to glorify John Kennedy. He was a politician and a human being, but to this college kid, America in 1963 seemed more optimistic about the future.