The photograph to the right has become one of the best known pictures in US history.
The photograph became famous because of Lee Harvey Oswald, alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy. The picture was taken as Oswald was being gunned down by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner. This took place on a Sunday morning, November 24, 1963, as Oswald was being transferred to the Dallas County Jail. The photograph won a Pulitzer Prize.
The man standing next to Oswald (in the light suit) is former Dallas homicide detective James Leavelle. Leavelle was told to handcuff himself to Oswald. They walked into the basement area to exit into the police garage where a police car was waiting. Leavelle and a small group had already expressed their reservations about transferring Oswald to the Dallas County Jail because the police had received a number of death threats regarding Oswald. Police Chief Jesse Curry told Leavelle that they were going to do the transfer this way because he had promised the media that the move would be public.
Note the following from yesterday’s Dallas News:
An ambulance rushed Oswald to Parkland Hospital, where President John F. Kennedy had died almost exactly two days before. Leavelle kept trying to revive Oswald, trying to get a pulse. “But he never did gain consciousness,” he said. “We were about halfway to the hospital, when he took a deep breath and then relaxed. I think that is when he died.”
The officer’s last moments with Oswald prompted thousands of questions for Leavelle later, as a stunned world searched for answers. “They’d say, ‘Did he confess? Did he admit it?’ But he never uttered a word.”
Leavelle is about to turn 90. He continues to get telephone calls and letters thanking him for his service.
Isn’t it interesting that Leavelle has been living for 90 years and yet the public only knows him for what happened during just a few seconds of his life?
Sometimes, tragic moments have a way of marking a person’s identity.
I was thinking today about how easy it is to allow a few seconds of our lives to determine and form our identity. One snapshot can often be allowed to be the sum total of our identity and consequently determine much about what we do in the future. For example, a person may have experienced one or more of the following difficulties:
- Former drug user
- Fired twice–loser
- finished everything required for the Master’s degree but the thesis
- Filed bankruptcy ten years ago
- Got pregnant and not married when 19
- Helped to get a girl pregnant while in college
- Parent of a drug addict
For many people, these difficulties have a way of marking them forever–at least in their minds. It is possible for a person to live for 40 years and yet always identify himself as a person who went through a divorce.
Perhaps a good exercise as you begin a new week is reminding yourself of your true identity in Jesus. Your identity in Jesus trumps any failure or any other identity marker. Perhaps your soul needs to hear this.
Does this resonate with you? Do you ever find yourself allowing a moment from the past to become your identity marker?