Sunday, November 23, 2008

November 22, 1963

It was a sad day. I was sitting in Mr. O'Hale's Latin class taking a test when the phone rang and Paul O'Hale, who moonlighted as a New York City transit cop, sauntered over to the wall phone and picked it up. He carefully put the phone down and sat down at his desk with a stunned look on his face. Shortly thereafter, an announcement came over the PA system and we heard of the awful events in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. 

Paul O'Hale reached in his shirt pocket where he always carried a box of evil smelling De Nobili cigars, lit one up, and I watched the tears roll down his sad Irish face.

Later that afternoon, Officer J.D. Tippit of the Dallas Police Department, one of the few officers who had not been sent to Dealey Plaza, approached a man walking down East 10th Street in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. A few words were spoken, and the man pulled out a pistol and shot J.D. Tippit to death. 

That man was Lee Harvey Oswald.

J.D. Tippit was born in Red River County, Texas, in 1924. He was a veteran of world war two, and had a wife and three children. He'd worked for Sears Roebuck, had tried his hand at farming, and joined the Dallas P.D. in 1952. 

He probably didn't ride in the back of too many limousines on a policeman's pay envelope and might not have known what to make of the Catholic president from the North  with the wife and children, but I like to think they had a lot in common.

If you're on Laureland Road just west of Marsalls, look to the south. You'll see Laurel Land Memorial Park where Officer Tippit is buried. It is no more than twenty blocks from where he gave his life. I don't know if they have an eternal flame there, but as long as memory survives of that awful day in 1963, Tippit's memory will not be forgotten.

It is said that he came from a good family that gathers each year to celebrate Thanksgiving and the bittersweet memory of that day in November so long ago and what they lost personally.

Greater love hath no man, than to lay down his life for his friends-John, 15:13.


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