Monday, November 19, 2012

Dallas announces "The 50th Committee"

Vat's dat you say? You didn't get zee memo on who or vat da 50th Commitee es? Well, dat's gut, dats just the vay dat they vant it.

You can only get the full article if you subscribe to The Dallas Morning News.

Ruth Altshuler, chairwoman of The 50th Committee, and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings say next year’s event marking the JFK assassination will include music and speakers. "Music and speakers" that's what made the Nuremberg rallies so great. 

A committee of high-profile Dallas business and community leaders, in 
partnership with City Hall, is planning a ceremony at Dealey Plaza next 
year to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John 
F. Kennedy.

The 45-minute event marks the first time in 20 years, and one of the 
very few times in the past half-century, that an official ceremony has 
been scheduled to mark the darkest day in the city’s history.

The observance will not be restricted to VIPs, although admission will 
require advance ticketing. The commemoration will include music and 
speakers and, afterward, the plaza will be reopened. Details of the 
program will be announced at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

When the committee was formed last spring, Mayor Mike Rawlings said 
organizers wanted to set a tone for the commemoration that was “serious, 
respectful, understated.”

“It became obvious to me in the fall of last year that probably the most 
important date for me as mayor was going to be the 50th anniversary of 
the assassination,” Rawlings said.

“I say that because on the 48th, people were already asking, ‘What are 
you going to do on the 50th?’”

Organizers have said the event would focus on the life and legacy of 
Kennedy, rather than on the circumstances of his death.

In the past, leaders of the city and The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey 
Plaza have shied away from organizing a commemoration of the events of 
Nov. 22, 1963. In part, they said, they were deferring to the wishes of 
the Kennedy family, who wanted no official recognition of the tragedy.

One of the few exceptions was the 30th anniversary, when there was a 
ceremony marking Dealey Plaza’s enrollment in the National Register of 
Historic Places.

On most anniversaries, however, the absence of an official program found 
the plaza dominated by conspiracy theorists, and sometimes simply by 
attention seekers, at 12:30 p.m. That was the moment Lee Harvey Oswald 
shot the president from a sixth-floor window at the Texas School Book 

For months, city and museum officials have said they were concerned 
about the city’s image next year when a major anniversary of one of the 
20th century’s most tragic events is expected to attract international 

“Dallas has been somewhat defined by the events of that day. We will 
have a chance to present what Dallas is,” Rawlings said.

Last year, museum officials secured a permit for Dealey Plaza during the 
anniversary week, a permit since taken over by city leaders.

Rawlings earlier this year set up the organizing group, known as The 
50th Committee, and appointed Ruth Altshuler, one of the city’s 
highest-profile philanthropists, as its chair.

Altshuler said she was shocked when the mayor asked her to head the 
committee. She initially resisted.

“I said, ‘I’m over the hill,’” she recalled. “And he said, ‘Do it for 
Dallas.’ And that did it, so I said, ‘I’ll come back over the hill.’”

The multiethnic group has met several times over the past few months.

Its ranks include some of the most prominent names in the city: 
philanthropist Margot Perot; arts patron Anita Martinez; and the Rev. 
Zan W. Holmes Jr., pastor emeritus of St. Luke Community United 
Methodist Church.

It also includes political figures such as state Sen. Royce West, DISD 
board President Lew Blackburn and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

The committee, which had 21 members when it was first formed, has added 
four more, including former Mayor Ron Kirk, now U.S. trade representative.

AT A GLANCE: The 50th Committee

The 25 officers and members of The 50th Committee:


Honorary chairman Mike Rawlings, Dallas mayor

Chairwoman Ruth Sharp Altshuler, philanthropist

Vice chairwoman Linda Pitts Custard, philanthropist


Lindalyn Adams, historic preservationist

Lew Blackburn, DISD board of trustees president

Adelfa Callejo, civil-rights activist

Kevin Farrell, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas

Nancy Strauss Halbreich, civic volunteer

Zan W. Holmes Jr., pastor emeritus of St. Luke Community United 
Methodist Church

Clay Jenkins, Dallas County judge

Ron Kirk, U.S. trade representative

Bobby Lyle, philanthropist

Anita Martinez, arts patron

Linda McFarland, civic volunteer

Cappy McGarr, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts board member

Ken Menges, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza board chairman

Blaine Nelson, Dallas Symphony Orchestra board chairman

Erle Nye, retired utility executive

Rick Ortiz, Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president

Margot Perot, philanthropist

Jeanne Phillips, former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Economic 
Cooperation and Development

Caren Prothro, philanthropist

Deedie Rose, philanthropist

Terdema Ussery, president of the Dallas Mavericks

Royce West, state senator

SOURCES: The 50th Committee; Dallas Morning News research

And from WFAA:
DALLAS -- A year from now, Dallas will be in the world spotlight for the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

On Tuesday, Mayor Mike Rawlings will announce details of how the city will remember the tragedy, and Monday News 8 confirmed through a city spokesman that the city will take over a permit for an event at Dealey Plaza.

John Mattes of Grapevine brought his sister who's visiting from California to Dealey Plaza Monday, and they quickly offered where they think the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death should be held in Dallas.

"It should be here," Debbie Mattes said, "because you get to see where history happened."

"People need to come to the spot to remember it," John Mattes added. "If it's somewhere else, then it's not as profound."

And the City of Dallas agrees. A spokesman told News 8 that the 
Sixth Floor Museum, which held a permit for events at Dealey Plaza next November, will give it up Tuesday so the JFK 50th Committee can take it over.

Mayor Rawlings appointed the citizens committee to plan a memorial that'll be held Nov. 22, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. -- 50 years to the moment of the first shot.

However, some committee members say they discussed a City Hall Plaza ceremony instead, since there's great sensitivity on what tone and image the city should set for the event that will attract worldwide media coverage.

These committee members say that concern extended to how to deal with the conspiracy vendors constantly at Dealey, but the city says the 50th event will be open to the public.

If not, longtime vendor Robert Groden said he'll be ready to fight.

"If the city wants to keep, the Sixth Floor wants to keep researchers and people who challenge the official fiction out of the plaza, we'll file a lawsuit against the city and the Sixth Floor," he said.

JFK 50th Committee members say some of the early concerns are crowd control, security, and media logistics. The city said Dealey Plaza will be shut down 48 hours prior to the event, which could cause traffic issues, too. Those are all among topics the mayor may discuss Tuesday.


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