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The latest issue of U.S. News & World Report features a cover story headlined "Eyewitness to History," which is running in conjunction with an exhibit called "Eyewitness: American Originals from the National Archives" that's on display at the National Archives from now till January. It's essentially a celebration of the first drafts of history--the raw, unexpurgated accounts of the famous, the infamous and the in-between as they lived through history textbook moments.
Among the items included in the exhibition, and in the magazine, is Lady Bird Johnson's recollections of the events of November 22, 1963, as she and her husband Lyndon joined John and Jackie Kennedy on that ill-fated motorcade through downtown Dallas. Only a few days after Kennedy was killed, and Governor John Connolly was shot, Lady Bird sat in front of a tape recorder to recount the day's horrific events. A transcript of the recording was used by the Warren Commission and is now on display in Washington and in the issue of U.S. News on stands this very moment. The excerpt included in the magazine bears the appropriately poetic title "First the Sunshine, Then the Horror," and it begins with these sentences:
"It all began so beautifully. After a drizzle in the morning, the sun came out bright and beautiful. We were going into Dallas. In the lead car, President and Mrs. Kennedy, John and Nellie, and then a Secret Service car full of men, and then our car--Lyndon and me and Senator Yarborough. The streets were lined with people--lots and lots of people--the children all smiling, placards, confetti, people waving from windows. One last happy moment I had was looking up and seeing Mary Griffith leaning out of a window waving at me."
You know what happens after that. --Robert Wilonsky