“The people want desperately to forget the tragedy and go on with the business of living as though nothing had happened here.”
On January 19, 1964, Rabbi Olan posed a question to the citizens of Dallas: in the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, what should we do now? While he notes that Dallas isn’t guilty of anything simply because the assassination happened here, he holds a mirror up, forcing us to acknowledge that we were apprehensive about President Kennedy’s visit. He points out that “the law enforcing officers were pleading with the citizens…to behave decently, to discourage anyone who could cause an incident” and that the leading citizens, without saying so, expressed their uneasiness and wished “he were here and gone already, I would feel better.”
And why was this the general attitude of the city? As Rabbi Olan points out, Dallas had already become “the number one spot in the nation for intolerance.” But it’s never too late to change and he encourages Dallas to reflect on how it can improve, while also accepting the blame and responsibility.
“Perhaps to paraphrase the late President, our value system in Dallas ought to be, ‘ask not what Dallas can do for me – but what can I do for Dallas?’”
*Written by Anjelica N. Ruiz, MLS, Director of Libraries and Archives at Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, Texas.*