As Fort Osage Superintendent Mark Enderle began lining up six chairs in the front of Chris Earley’s class at Fort Osage High School, students began whispering.
As Fort Osage Superintendent Mark Enderle began lining up six chairs in the front of Chris Earley’s class at Fort Osage High School, students began whispering. Two chairs were in front, two in the center and finally, two in the rear. The chairs were meant to simulate the limousine that John F. Kennedy rode in Nov. 22, 1963.
“I have had an interest in this topic for a number of years,” Enderle said about the history lesson. “I find it fascinating that there are still facts and details we don’t know and will never know.”
Enderle spoke to the students in Earley’s psychology class about the John F. Kennedy assassination. The mock vehicle served as a visual aid to show students where the bullets hit President Kennedy, traveling through him and injuring Texas Gov. John Connally.
“I think it gives them an insight into what really happened in the vehicle,” he said. “It brings the lesson to life.”
Kennedy was riding through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Just past the Texas School Book Depository, Lee Harvey Oswald used a high-powered rifle to take four shots at the president – three of which actually hit the motorcade. The last bullet struck Kennedy in the head, killing him. Oswald was later apprehended and was assassinated himself by Jack Ruby before he could go to trial.
“I used to do this presentation in 45 minutes, and I would run out of time,” said Enderle, a former history teacher. “Since we went to block scheduling, I have 90 minutes and still run out of time. I am still fascinated by the mystery that surrounds the assassination. A mystery that will never be solved because Oswald was killed. It is really a living topic because we learn new things every year that bring new information to light.”
Enderle used movie clips and images to take the students through the assassination. He said he was once a conspiracy theorist believing there were multiple gunmen, including one on the infamous grassy knoll. Now, however, after years of research, Enderle said he believes Kennedy was assassinated by Oswald alone.
“In the beginning, I was way more of a conspiracy thinking, believing their were several men and that certain forces allowed the incident to happen,” he said. “But my way of thinking has really evolved over time. No one can say for 100-percent certainty what happened, but I now have changed my opinion.”
Earley said he wanted to bring Enderle to speak to the class because of his knowledge in this area. He said although students were not alive when Kennedy was assassinated, they can relate to the magnitude of the assassination because they all remember the magnitude of Sept. 11, 2001.
“There is an emotional tie to remembering a significant event, such as Kennedy being assassinated, Reagan being shot or Sept. 11,” Earley said. “I wanted the students to realize how memory can be associated with emotions and to see this particular event in history with their eyes and ears wide open.”