A detour in Dallas

This year marks the 60th anniversary of one of history’s most tragic moments.

On 22 November 1963, as US President John F. Kennedy was riding an open-top 1961 Lincoln Continental along Elm Street in Dallas, Texas, when he was killed by shots fired from the seventh floor of the Texas School Book Depository.

Until now, mystery surrounds the assassination and visitors from around the world continue to pay homage to the popular American leader, who was making an informal launch of his 1964 reelection bid.

A few years ago, I got the chance to make a return trip to Dealey Plaza, the site where JFK was fatally shot.

My first visit happened in 2010 while on coverage of a Manny Pacquiao fight that took place at the Cowboy Stadium in the city of Arlington.

I was with a group of Filipino sports scribes and going to Dealey Plaza — right in the heart of Dallas — was included on our bucket list.

Several years later, I was on coverage again and found myself staying in Dallas for a few nights and made sure to go there again since I am a history buff and deeply passionate about historical spots.

Not much had changed since my last visit, but it still felt as if it was my first time.

I guess, places like this leave a lasting impression that you won’t mind visiting again and again the way I was with some other places elsewhere that proved to be life-changing moments.

I won’t mind taking that long journey again to be in Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland nor would I think twice about heading to Pompeii to marvel at the Roman ruins.

You see, Dealey Plaza has fascinated me as far back my high school days and when the opportunity came knocking to go there, I didn’t think twice about going.

Previously, I didn’t get to hang around longer.

This time, I had all the time in the world to absorb and feel the vibe of the place.

I walked up the concrete steps and tried looking for the inscription that I made on the wooden fences of the grassy knoll.

No luck.

Given the influx of tourists and conspiracy theorists that wander around the area, it wasn’t hard to accept that the markings that we all had left in 2010 were no longer there.

But I still climbed the steps and walked slowly, looked around and imagined what it was like during that fateful afternoon in November 1963, the audio of Walter Cronkite’s voice, breaking, confirming Kennedy’s death on national television.

A short walk was the Texas School Book Depository — renamed Dallas County Administration Building — where I looked up to see where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the Italian-made Carcano rifle that he bought via mail order for a mere $20 in March of 1963.

I also went inside a souvenir shop and took a long and hard look at reprints of newspapers that were screaming with headlines of JFK’s assassination before going out to scan the view of Elm Street, moving pictures of the presidential limousine picking up speed onto Stemmons Freeway en route to Parkland Memorial where he was pronounced dead less than half an hour later, rolling in my head.

Since I had once again satisfied my curiosity, it was time for some good old Texas barbecue, and in no time found myself stepping inside Slow Bone Barbecue feasting on ribs and wings and other tasty treats.

Indeed, it was the perfect way to reward the traveler as he was catching a flight to San Francisco for the long trip to Manila and already thinking of going back.