On a frigid, rainy Texas Sunday, a small but steady trickle of curious visitors made their way to the grave of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald on the 50th anniversary of his murder. By JANA PRUET
At the grave site Sunday morning, a simple stone marker laid flat in the ground reads “OSWALD.” There was no first name, no birth date or date of death at his grave in Fort Worth, just west of Dallas.
The threadbare grass surrounding the grave – dotted with a few coins and floral bouquets – had been pressed down by those who visit. Only a few came to see the grave on the anniversary.
Coming two days after the global media blitz to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, gunned down by Oswald during a trip to Dallas on 22 November 1963, the anniversary of Oswald’s killing has remained an afterthought.
Oswald was shot dead by Dallas night club owner Jack Ruby on 24 November, 1963 in what was the first murder shown live on a national U.S. television broadcast. The former U.S. soldier who had defected to the Soviet Union was 24 years old.
“It completes the story essentially,” said Paul Nixon, who traveled from Britain to attended the memorial for Kennedy in Dealey Plaza in Dallas on Friday and has been visiting locations related to the assassination.
Many see Oswald a confused loner who changed the fabric of world history and came to the cemetery in a quiet part of Fort Worth as part of their remembrance of Kennedy.
Other visitors see Oswald as a cog in a complex conspiracy to murder the president.
“There are so many theories and nothing is clear,” said Anna Olivares, 43, who traveled from Wisconsin to commemorate the assassination anniversary.
Olivares believes Oswald killed Kennedy, but does not believe he acted alone. Recent surveys show that a majority of Americans think there was a plot to kill Kennedy.
Oswald was buried a day after his death in a sparsely attended funeral that included his Russian wife, Marina, his mother and reporters – a few of whom stood in as pallbearers because there were not enough people to carry the casket.
“There were no mourners. There were no friends,” Mike Cochran, an AP reporter at the time who served as a pallbearer, told Reuters.
The police officer Oswald shot dead, J.D. Tippit, was buried that day in a different part of Texas.
The state funeral in Washington for Kennedy was also held that Monday as Americans united in grief and watched it on TV.
Soon after the caisson carrying Kennedy’s coffin arrived at Arlington National Cemetery, 81 percent of American homes with a television had their sets tuned in, ratings agency Nielsen said.
Hugh Aynesworth, a former Dallas Morning News reporter who witnessed the assassination, Oswald’s arrest and Oswald’s murder, said the fact that Oswald never faced trial fueled the speculative fires of many conspiracy theories.
“We can’t accept the fact very comfortably that two nobodies, two nothings – Oswald and Ruby – were able to change the course of world history,” he told Reuters. DM
(Editing by Jon Herskovitz, Chris Francescani, Doina Chiacu)
Photo: The grave marker of Lee Harvey Oswald is pictured on the 50th anniversary of his death at Rose Hill Cemetery in Fort Worth, Texas, November 24, 2013. On a frigid, rainy Texas Sunday, a small but steady trickle of curious visitors made their way to the grave of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald on the 50th anniversary of his murder. (REUTERS/Jana J. Pruet)
"The soul is known by its acts" ~ Thomas Aquinas