Fewer mark anniversary of JFK's death in Dallas Dallas Morning News DALLAS -- The anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy passed Wednesday on Dealey Plaza in what has become traditional fashion, with a milling crowd swapping memories, leaving flowers, propounding conspiracy theories or simply observing the scene. Kevin Beart of Toronto had traveled farther than most but seemed as perplexed as any about why he had come. "It's just something to be able to say that I was here the day, to the minute, to stand on the grassy knoll, to say I did it," he said. Beart, 29, is an acknowledged assassination buff, even though the event occurred eight years before he was born. He took a week's vacation to travel to Dallas, much to the surprise of his co-workers, he said. "Everybody thought I was nuts. They said, 'Why aren't you baking on a beach in Cancun?' But this is something I wanted to do," he said. Few who gathered on the site for the 37th anniversary were that dedicated. More typical was Hilary Upchurch, 21, of Sacramento, Calif., who happened to be in Dallas for Thanksgiving. She said she was unaware that Wednesday was the anniversary until she arrived at Dealey Plaza. Like Beart, Upchurch views the assassination as a historical event rather than a personal memory. Still, she said, she found herself unexpectedly moved by the setting. "It's upsetting," she said. "The murder of anyone is sad enough, but it's not something that should ever happen to a president." By 12:30 p.m. -- the moment on Nov. 22 1963, when the shooting occurred -- about 250 people were gathered on the grassy knoll. A group of conspiracy theorists speaking to the crowd through a loudspeaker called for a moment of silence. A replica of the black Lincoln Continental in which Kennedy had been riding drove slowly down the center lane, a man in a Dallas Cowboys jacket waving to the crowd. This year's small turnout was somewhat smaller than in past years, the result of chilly weather, fading memories and the proximity of Thanksgiving. Most of the crowd simply milled about. Middle age men and women swapped stories with strangers about where they were and what they were doing exactly 37 years ago. Some people stood across from the old Texas School Book Depository -- now the Dallas County Administration Building -- and pointed out the sixth floor window to their children. It was from there, the Warren Commission report said, that Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy. John Judge, a member of the Coalition on Political Assassinations, was on the plaza Wednesday to dispute that report. The truth about Kennedy's death, he said, has yet to be uncovered. "The physical realities are such that it could not have come from one gunman," he said. "If you call people who believe that 'conspiracy theorists,' then everybody else is a 'coincidence theorist.'" Judge has been coming to Dealey Plaza every Nov. 22 for 30 years. Crowds had been dwindling until the early 1990s, when the Oliver Stone movie "JFK," was released. The crowds picked back up after that, he said. If anyone has been coming to Dealey Plaza longer than Judge, it is John Templin, a retired truck driver. He was at Dealey Plaza 37 years ago, standing just beneath the Schoolbook Depository building watching the presidential motorcade. "The first shot, I thought it was a motorcycle backfiring," he said. "I thought Kennedy was just playing, throwing his arms up in the air pretending to protect himself. But the second one came, and I knew it was the real thing." Templin said he has come to Dealey Plaza almost every year since his retirement. In part, the anniversary is a chance to reminisce, but it has also become something of a social occasion. "You see the other eyewitnesses each year," he said. "It's nice. We've all gotten to know each other over the years."
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