COPA is mentioned in the New York Times (excerpt and full article below) and for the first time a distinction appears between researchers and critics and “conspiracy theorists”.
[EXCERPT]”Critics and conspiracy theorists complained that the city sanitized Dealey Plaza for the dignitaries and the cameras, and stifled their free-speech rights by restricting access to the area. About 5,000 tickets were distributed using a computer-generated lottery program, and for most of the morning and afternoon the plaza was off limits to those without tickets or credentials.
A group of researchers and academics critical of the Warren Commission, which concluded that Oswald alone killed the president, had held a moment of silence at the grassy knoll at 12:30 p.m. every Nov. 22 since 1964. This year, the group, called the Coalition on Political Assassinations, was prevented from gathering there at the same time as the ceremony at Dealey Plaza, and instead met nearby at that hour.”
On a Day It Can Never Escape, Dallas Tries to Heal
By MANNY FERNANDEZ
New York Times
November 22, 2013
DALLAS — At the precise minute when shots rang out at a downtown plaza here 50 years ago Friday, more than 5,000 people paused in silent tribute at the place where this city and the nation were forever changed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Beneath the sixth-floor corner window of the former Texas School Book Depository, dignitaries and residents of all ages gathered at Dealey Plaza as church bells tolled at 12:30 p.m., the moment when gunfire first echoed through the plaza on Nov. 22, 1963, as the president’s motorcade headed to a luncheon at the Dallas Trade Mart.
For 50 years, Dallas has grappled with its role as the site of one of the most horrific events of the 20th century. In the past, the city has avoided becoming involved in events marking Kennedy’s assassination, and there was a strong push in the 1970s to demolish the red-brick depository building, which many considered an ugly monument to the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Labeled the City of Hate after the assassination, Dallas had been a hub of right-wing anti-Kennedy extremists who had attacked visiting public figures before the president’s visit, and many blamed the city for encouraging political violence — even though the killer was a Marxist outsider.
But on Friday, amid heavy security and beneath a wet, gray sky that formed a vivid contrast with the warm, sunny afternoon 50 years ago, the city embraced its tragic place in American history as it never had before, holding its largest, most elaborate and costliest tribute to the president who died here. Though organized by city leaders to honor his memory, the event — the first city-sponsored ceremony in Dealey Plaza marking the anniversary of the assassination — seemed as much about the healing of Dallas as it was about the legacy of Kennedy.
The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas, the Most Rev. Kevin J. Farrell, spoke of “the years when we as citizens of this city suffered and were implicated.” Mayor Michael S. Rawlings defended the city’s efforts to become more tolerant and more diverse since 1963.
“These five decades have seen us turn civic heartbreak into hard work,” said Mr. Rawlings, who led the committee of local leaders that raised roughly $3 million in private donations to put on the event. “They have seen us go from youthful invincibility to existential vulnerability to greater maturity as a city and a community.” He added: “Today, because of the hard work of many people, Dallas is a different city. I believe the New Frontier did not end that day on our Texas frontier.”
The ceremony was one of many observances across the nation on Friday, from a musical tribute at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston to events at the many schools named for the former president, including John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Scranton, Pa., which opened in 1964. At Arlington National Cemetery, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. visited Kennedy’s grave at dawn, and later in the morning members of the Kennedy family, including Jean Kennedy Smith, the slain president’s last surviving sibling, laid a wreath there.
In Dallas, the ceremony unfolded with bagpipes and the reading of excerpts from Kennedy’s speeches in the center of Dealey Plaza, surrounded by the landmarks that have become familiar to millions: the grassy slopes and 1930s-era architecture of the plaza, the squat red-brick facade of the School Book Depository, the wooden fence atop the grassy knoll. The area has remained largely frozen in time for half a century as the city and the skyline around it have been transformed.
“It’s like kind of reliving things all over again,” said Robert Connor, 57, of nearby Plano, who stood with his wife near the stage and who recalled being in a second-grade classroom in Birmingham, Mich., that afternoon in 1963. “It’s similar to 9/11: Don’t forget what took place here.”
As Kennedy’s voice echoed through the plaza from old news footage and his likeness on a giant banner towered over the stage, the power of his words, ideas and charisma seemed to hang over the audience like the chilly mist.
But it was above, toward that sixth-floor sniper’s perch, now part of a museum exhibit, where many people pointed and photographed, as if looking for a shadow. Some stared in another direction, at the picket fence along the grassy knoll, where many believe a second gunman, or maybe even a third, fired at Kennedy. “This is where a president lost his life, and this is where a nation lost its mind,” someone named Ben Landis scrawled on the back of the fence posts.
The graffiti behind the grassy knoll was not visible to the audience.
Critics and conspiracy theorists complained that the city sanitized Dealey Plaza for the dignitaries and the cameras, and stifled their free-speech rights by restricting access to the area. About 5,000 tickets were distributed using a computer-generated lottery program, and for most of the morning and afternoon the plaza was off limits to those without tickets or credentials.
A group of researchers and academics critical of the Warren Commission, which concluded that Oswald alone killed the president, had held a moment of silence at the grassy knoll at 12:30 p.m. every Nov. 22 since 1964. This year, the group, called the Coalition on Political Assassinations, was prevented from gathering there at the same time as the ceremony at Dealey Plaza, and instead met nearby at that hour.
Many who attended the ceremony were not yet born when Kennedy was killed, or were too young to remember or were living elsewhere. But several others had been at Dealey Plaza or at the Trade Mart in 1963.
Hugh Aynesworth, 82, who covered the assassination as a reporter for The Dallas Morning News, was standing near the depository that day as the motorcade passed when he heard three shots and watched as people ran or threw their children down to shield them.
He has been to many of the smaller anniversary observances in Dealey Plaza. “I just think a lot of people over the years wanted to forget it,” he said.
He said this year’s commemoration was welcome and overdue, but added that perhaps a burden has been put on Dallas that exceeded an entire city’s complicity in a crime half a century ago. “As we look around our world today, we see turmoil and horror happening every week and every month in every city,” he said. “And it isn’t always a city’s fault.”
Timothy Williams contributed reporting from New York.