At Dealey Plaza

     DALLAS (CN) – Those two white Xs.
     They have been painted in the lanes of Elm Street in Dealey Plaza for as long as I can remember – ever since I was a child.
     The first one is directly west of the former Texas School Book Depository, where President John F. Kennedy was shot in the throat while riding in the back seat of a convertible limousine. The second X is about 20 yards down the street, where the kill shot struck him in the head.
     No one knows for sure who puts them there. The Xs are not officially sanctioned by city or county officials. Rain or shine, faded or scraped away, the Xs always return. I assume the plethora of conspiracy vendors in the plaza put them there for tourists to take photos of while peddling their wares.
     And take photos tourists gleefully do. They wait until traffic passes, then dart into the middle of the street to give a wave next to an X or perform a goofy pose. They run up the grassy knoll and pretend to be the second gunman. They marvel at how small the plaza is, how Lee Harvey Oswald was practically on top of the motorcade as it passed.
     For years, my two passenger-side tires drove over the Xs as I left downtown each evening. I had no choice; I had to drive in that lane if I wanted to make my exit out of the plaza. Sometimes I would slow down to the speed of the motorcade and count down the delay between each gunshot. It always creeped me out.
     It is amusing to me – the top tourist destination in downtown Dallas being so macabre and tragic. The fascination with Abraham Zapruder’s film of the shooting, and the Xs, are almost pornographic, dare I say.
     I have been wondering for months how the city will handle the Xs when it commemorates the 50th anniversary of the assassination. The plaza will be closed for a ceremony, for dignitaries and 5,000 ticketholders. The hour-long event will include speeches, prayers and reading of excerpts from Kennedy’s speeches.
     I found it impossible to believe city leaders would allow the world’s cameras to see the X’s during a dignified commemoration. My only question was how they would be hidden.
     The answer came Monday afternoon. As downtown emptied for the day, city crews began closing off lanes of Elm Street in the plaza and resurfacing the asphalt. As of now, the Xs are gone.
     When the Dallas Morning News asked, city officials refused to acknowledge that the Xs had been removed.
     “We are laying asphalt to level out the streets and remove any trip hazards,” city spokesman Frank Librio said. “With thousands visiting the area this week, we think that is prudent.”
     How convenient.
     I’m glad they are gone, though. Someone was murdered there. A president. I would rather his life and memory be the focus on Friday. And by Friday night, I hope the Xs and tourists are back.

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