Kennedy limousine | Credit: Dallas Morning News

NOVEMBER 22, 1963

Friday, November 22, 1963, stands as one of the darkest days in American history. The events in Dallas that day, just one week before the Thanksgiving holiday, stunned the nation and brought people everywhere to their knees in grief.

For the family of J.D. Tippit, the emotion and pain were ten fold. They had lost not just a President but a brother, a husband, a father, and a friend.

For many years, the Tippit family were unable to talk about the terrible loss of one so beloved, not even amongst themselves. But they never forgot.

While some have questioned whether Officer Tippit's actions that day were heroic in the traditional sense, there can be little doubt that J.D. was a true American hero.

In his book, The Hero in History, Sidney Hook argues that the "great man or woman in history" is "someone of whom we can say...that if they had not lived when they did, or acted as they did, the history of their countries and of the world...would have been profoundly different."

No one can say what would have happened had Oswald escaped Dallas, but few would quarrel with the thought that the world as we know it today would be, as Mr. Hook puts it, profoundly different.

Oswald's escape and the knowledge of his ties to communist Cuba and the Soviet Union, at the height of the Cold War and in the wake of the president's assassination, might easily have lit a fuse that would have been impossible to extinguish.

We can thank J.D. Tippit that we never had to find out just how different our world would have been.

For fifty years, the Tippit family has gathered every November at Thanksgiving time to bask in each other's warmth, share the traditional American feast, and give thanks for having known, loved, and been touched by one family member who with his life changed the course of history.

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