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An Infamous Artifact

Blogs from August, 2015


It was only two years ago that we, as a nation and, (more specifically), as Texans, reflected on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of this nation’s 35th President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. It was a sad stain on our history and a bizarre weekend of characters and incidences that still haven’t been fully understood by the masses. The live, on-air murder of the accused assassin just two days after the shock of the public attack was too much to comprehend. But the weird trajectory of the story didn’t stop there and it required a passionate individual and his skilled attorneys to bring it to its conclusion this month.

Shortly after Jack Ruby yelled “Oswald” and fired a bullet into the belly of the man who stood accused of the crime of killing the President, Lee Harvey Oswald was quietly and unceremoniously laid to rest in a west Fort Worth cemetery, a simple headstone marking his grave. The rest of the Oswald family, led by the matriarch, Marguerite Oswald, wanted no attention on them for the actions of one of their own. The few reporters who showed up for the burial were soon put to work as pallbearers for the man who snuffed out the bright light of Camelot.

Fast forward just a few years after the tragic weekend in 1963, and a group of teenagers from Oklahoma had made their way to the D/FW area and found the cemetery and grave of Oswald. They made off with the headstone on the anniversary of the assassination as a prank. It wasn’t long until the headstone was located and returned to Marguerite Oswald. She kept the stolen stone and replaced the grave with a more generic stone that simply had the family name etched into it. She stored the stolen stone in the crawlspace under her Fort Worth home.

Through the combination of time and circumstance, the stone, discovered by later owners of the home, became the centerpiece for a family feud that saw the marker trekked across the nation where it was finally sold to a small automobile museum in Illinois. The family that assumed ownership of the marker sought, for several years, to have the stone returned. It finally made its way back to Fort Worth this month.

David Card, a local business owner whose family purchased their Fort Worth home from the Oswald’s, is legally prohibited from discussing the terms of the legal agreement that brought the marker back to North Texas. But, as he explained to the Dallas Morning News’ Steve Blow, “I was the only one with the legal standing and the financial means to fight for it.” Throughout the long legal fight, Card held that belief to heart and never once thought there would be any situation that would keep him from being reunited with the historical artifact. He now wants to present the grave marker to the Sixth Floor Museum, a permanent installation in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza that educates citizens about and commemorates that fateful day.

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