Love Field tarmac where LBJ took oath marked

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by JASON WHITELY / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on November 12, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 12 at 11:35 AM

DALLAS — On a busy ramp at Love Field's new terminal, nothing more than an orange square marks the spot where history happened.

"This is the spot right here,” said Terry Mitchell, Assistant Director of Aviation for the City of Dallas. “We've had it surveyed, and this is it.”

It is the exact spot where Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president of the United States.

"We're really obligated to remember this in some fashion," Mitchell said.

Fifty years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, this location was a challenge to pinpoint.

But the city used a snapshot taken by an air traffic controller from that day, identified landmarks, and did some math to establish Air Force One's position on the tarmac and the location in the cabin where LBJ took the oath.

But Farris Rookstool, a JFK historian and former FBI analyst, is making sure that historic moment isn't forgotten.

"This is the spot — the actual spot at Love Field — where our Constitution was preserved," he said.

He personally paid for a 43-pound bronze plaque to be embedded into concrete next to where Southwest Airlines jets taxi in and out of gates.

"If you stop and think, in 18 x 24 inches [of this plaque], this gives the beginning and the end of a presidency and someone's life," Rookstool said.

The spot marks only the fourth time in American history that the oath of office was given outside the nation's capital. It was the first time an inauguration happened west of the Mississippi River... and aboard an aircraft.

The closest the public will be able to get to the marker is a window in the terminal.

The plaque will be installed next year, before construction in the area is complete. Mitchell said the city is considering ideas for a duplicate marker in the terminal and etching on the window to help travelers see the area.

"I know it's not very impressive right now, but once the plaque is embedded into the concrete, it'll be something special," Mitchell said.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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