Dallas Love Field gets marker illuminating where LBJ was sworn in

Oct 01, 2015

Jason Whitely, WFAA TV of Dallas
Oct. 1, 2015
Originally appeared in USA Today

DALLAS – After almost 52 years, Dallas Love Field has officially marked the location where President Lyndon Baines Johnson took the oath of office aboard Air Force One as it sat parked on the ramp.

On Wednesday afternoon, contractors turned on a light embedded into the concrete where Southwest Airlines jets taxi in and out of the gates. Inches away from the light sits a 43-pound bronze marker flush into the ground which lists the historic events of Nov. 22, 1963.

"President Kennedy has the eternal flame at Arlington Cemetery and a simple light here marks where the Constitution was preserved that day," said Farris Rookstool III, historian, who gifted the bronze marker to the city.

Four LED lights shine a bright white light at a window in the terminal. The public can see the light next to the Fly Bar on Love Landing, located on the second floor of the airport – to the left of where passengers exit the secure terminal area.

Johnson's oath of office at Love Field marked the first time a president was sworn west of the Mississippi River.

There was some question as to whether Johnson should take the oath aboard the aircraft or wait until he got back to Washington after President Kennedy's assassination, Rookstool said. Johnson decided to do it in Dallas in the crowded stateroom of Air Force One.

But locating that specific spot took weeks.

Using an old photograph of Air Force One that day and locating landmarks at Love Field, Rookstool helped the city and contractors pinpoint the exact location at the airport where LBJ put one hand on Kennedy's Catholic prayer book and raised his other.

"This was not only a historic moment for our country but also our city and the airport," Rookstool added.

Within months, Love Field will add panels near the window chronicling the history of what happened at the airport, said Terry Mitchell, assistant director of Aviation for the city. In addition, a duplicate bronze marker will also hang inside the terminal.

"It lives for generations to come," said Rookstool. "It's truly one of the most memorable days of my life."