An Australian on the Grassy Knoll.

JFK. Grassy Knoll. Owen Zupp.


An Australian on the Grassy Knoll.

I have always been fascinated by history and subscribed to the belief that fact can be far stranger than fiction. We are all entertained by storytelling – and history is the story of humankind with all of its twists and turns. And so, regaining the right to fly has brought with it the opportunity to travel explore where history was made. First it was London and then it was a day in Dallas.

In the context of stories, the life and death of John F. Kennedy is in rare company. Born into a powerful family, his career as a naval officer in World War Two was not highlighted by the loss of his patrol boat, the PT-109, but his role in the subsequent survival and rescue of his crew. With the death of his older brother, a political career beckoned and culminated in the Presidency of the United States and a seemingly fairytale marriage.



Still, for all of the advances he oversaw in civil rights, volunteerism and the space race, his short term in office will always be overshadowed by the controversy surrounding his death at the hands of an assassin – or assassins. It is this ongoing debate of the circumstance of his death that seems to grow rather than subside with the passage of time.

For a lad from the land down under, the story has been told and retold through books, documentaries and YouTube videos. So much so, that as I wandered down Elm Street on a cloudless day, my surroundings seemed familiar. The descending road to the underpass, the grassy knoll and the Texas School Book Depository.

The sixth floor of the book depository is now home to an extensive museum dedicated to Kennedy’s life and his fateful visit to Dallas. The “Sniper’s Nest” has been recreated in the corner, adjacent to the window from where Lee Harvey Oswald took aim. Artefacts and audio recreate the era and  interactive screens display the motorcade on its final pass. As I stood by a window and looked down upon the scene, my mind’s eye visualised what had transpired all of those decades ago. Today, the crosses on the road marking the fateful locations are well worn by the traffic going about their day to day.

JFK. Sniper’s Nest.


Before I began the trek back to the hotel, I sat on the grassy knoll where it was suggested another gunman had laid in wait. For my part, I gave the various theories little thought, preferring to contemplate the significance of the known facts before me. The fact that metres from where I sat, a US President had been struck down, a Governor wounded and children left without a father.

Most of the original buildings remain and provided an historically accurate backdrop – but in the foreground, life went on. The chaos and crowds of that moment in history had been replaced by life uninterrupted. For me, it was another poignant interaction with history that life has afforded me. And another of humankind’s ongoing story had become even more real for an Australian on the grassy knoll.

JFK. Fatal Shot X