For the first 20 years, most people probably thought the idea too raw, to mark the place where Officer Tippit died. More recently people complained that there was no other memorial to Tippit, whose actions may well have smoked out the assassin of President John F. Kennedy that day.
With pressure from the Dallas Police Department, and assists from the Dallas Independent School District, the marker was installed on school property at the intersection, across the street from the spot where Tippit was shot.
Tippit died near the intersection of 10th Street and Patton Street, in Oak Cliff, a section of Dallas across the Trinity River from downtown.
Dallas ISD’s Adamson High School is about two blocks away, to the northwest; the campus has been expanded to come within a block of the site. The marker sits next to tennis courts recently installed by the district, in a small park cut out from the athletic complex. Dallas ISD acquired many of the residences in the area. Renovations in the past two years included closing part of 10th Street west of Patton.
A brighter though still-somber mood pervaded the marker’s dedication on November 20, 2012. About 200 people gathered for the ceremony, including a lot of police officers and school officials.
Brad Watson, a reporter for WFAA-TV, Channel 8, questioned the lack of recognition for Tippit in a broadcast two years ago. Michael Amonett, then president of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, took up the cause, with help from Farris Rookstool III, a Kennedy assassination historian.
The school district provided the land. And the Texas Historical Foundation donated $5,000 to the project.
The crowd of about 200 people Tuesday included Tippit’s widow Marie; his children, Allan, Brenda and Curtis Tippit; his sister Joyce DeBord; other family members; and police officers past and present.
Standing and sitting under a cloudless sky, they watched members of the Adamson ROTC present the colors, heard the Dallas police choir sing God Bless America and listened while speakers praised the slain officer and his family.
Watson covered the ceremony for his station. The ceremony might be noted for its lack of higher dignitaries; it was a working cop’s ceremony, with Dallas Police Chief David Brown being the top rank present.
2013 is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, in Dallas. Proponents wanted to get the tribute to Officer Tippit installed in time for the anniversary year. Particularly with the aid of scholars at the 6th Floor Museum, tourists and historians have been retracing routes taken that day 50 years ago, the parade route of President Kennedy from Love Field, with the emergency reroute to Parkland, and the route Oswald is thought to have used to flee after the shooting, from the Texas School Book Depository, through the bus station, across the Trinity River to his boarding house in Oak Cliff, and from there to the Texas Theater where he was captured.
Particular striking in this history is the role played by ordinary citizens — Officer Tippit on his rounds, witnesses in the surrounding homes and the people who used Tippit’s radio to notify Dallas Police of Tippit’s shooting (in an era before cell phones, and probably before most local phone lines even had Touch Tone™ dialing), the alert salesman at the now-defunct Hardy’s shoe store, and the ticket seller at the Texas Theater who phoned police after Oswald stiffed the theater on a ticket price.
Hardy’s Shoe Store was a Quinceanera dress shop in 2011 and may have gone through other incarnations since 1963. Assassination histories note that students playing hooky from W. H. Adamson or Sunset High Schools were in the Texas Theater when Oswald was arrested, though most of them ran out to avoid being questioned by police and outed for having skipped school. Adamson’s campus is greatly expanded recently.
But for the intervention of ordinary citizens along the path, it is entirely conceivable that the assassin of the president of the United States might have gone undetected long enough to dispose of evidence that linked him to the crime, or escaped from the country.
My students over the past five years, all residents of Oak Cliff, knew very little about the Kennedy assassination, nor especially the links to Oak Cliff. We need to do a better job as parents, teachers, newspapers, broadcast organizations, community associations and municipal government, in preserving and commemorating our local histories.
- Dallas ISD news note about the ceremony, with pictures
- Marker Unveiled For Officer Slain After JFK Assassination (dfw.cbslocal.com)
- Marker honoring Dallas police Officer J.D. Tippit, slain by Lee Harvey Oswald, unveiled in Oak Cliff (thescoopblog.dallasnews.com)
- After 49 Years, A Monument for Slain Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit (blogs.dallasobserver.com)
- Marker unveiled for officer slain after JFK (star-telegram.com)
- Oak Cliff marker, ceremony to honor J.D. Tippit, slain by Lee Harvey Oswald almost 49 years ago (thescoopblog.dallasnews.com)
- Marking a dark day in North Texas, U.S. history (star-telegram.com)
- “J. D. Tippit was love of Marie’s life,” Claudia Feldman, Houston Chronicle, November 20, 1988
- Historian David McCullough to headline 50th anniversary ceremony of JFK assassination, in Dallas, Dallas Morning News
- Dallas to Mark 50 Years Since JFK’s Assassination (nbcnewyork.com)
- A website is dedicated to Officer Tippit — it claims to be the official site; there you may learn that there is an earlier historical marker, placed in the town where Officer Tippit was born