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Parkland Memorial Hospital Draws International Intrigue

By Jennifer Lindgren

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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Parkland Memorial Hospital is gaining a lot of international attention for the role the hospital played on November 22, 1963 — the day President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated.

Not only have American media outlets from all over the county made the trip down to Dallas to report on the historical significance, but foreign media as well.

In the last six months, the news operations who have come from overseas include three from the United Kingdom, three from France, one from Finland, and most recently, one from Germany.

Friday, writer Sebastian Fischer and videographer Sandra Sperber took a tour of the hospital for a memorial piece they are producing for Spiegel Online and Spiegel International.

The Der Spiegel network is one of the largest media outlets in Germany.

“There is a lot of interest in Germany. JFK is like a hero in Germany. There are a lot of places and schools named after him,” said Fischer.

The root of President Kennedy’s popularity in Germany dates back to the summer of 1963, when the President made a speech in Berlin challenging Communist oppression.

“The ‘Ich Bin Ein Berliner’ phrase – that’s a very important thing for Germans today,” Fischer said.

The Spiegel crew will be in Dallas four days, making stops at Dealey Plaza, and interviewing witnesses to the assassination, and as well as others with historical perspective on the tragedy.

At Parkland, the journalists were eager to see the site of the old Trauma 1 room, where the doctors futilely tried to save the President’s life.

All that remains of that moment today is a small plaque on the wall. The space is now the waiting room of the radiology department.

“I was really surprised [Parkland] is so open to the public, and that it’s possible to see the trauma room. To go to that place. I didn’t expect to be allowed inside the hospital, so I was really surprised,” Sperber said.

The hospital also has a commemorative wall dedicated to President Kennedy.

The Senior Vice President of Facilities, Planning and Development for the hospital, Walter Jones talks about the number of requests hospital administrators receive from curious outsiders nearly every day.

“50 years later, and there’s still this memory. There’s still this legacy. There’s still this interest. In this particular event, this particular person, this particular leader for our country, we happened to be home of it for a moment,” Jones said.

“We expect it will probably intensify just a little bit more, the closer we get.” Jones says of the interest.

Retired nurse Phyllis Hall, who volunteers at the 6th Floor Museum today, says she’s granted more than 30 interviews.

“People want to know, do I think it was a conspiracy. Did I vote for him. Was he alive when he got to the hospital. How did I feel emotionally,” Hall said.

She understands why the interest transcends the borders of the United States.

“The Kennedy family, as a family, was just well liked by people around the world,” Hall says.

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