It’s been 50 years since that fateful day in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza. John F. Kennedy’s life was tragically taken while he rode in a motorcade down the streets of downtown Dallas.
The 50 years that have gone by didn’t seem to curb that pain and sorrow felt all those decades ago, when 5,000 people gathered to show their respect, and remember. Remember that favorite president who, alongside his lovely wife Jackie, was shot in the head and killed on that fateful day, November 22, 1963. Kennedy was 46 years old.
“Our collective hearts were broken,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told a crowd of about 5,000 who came to a frigid Dealey Plaza, where Kennedy was slain while riding in a motorcade.
A Wreath was hung at Arlington Memorial Cemetery where Kennedy was laid to rest, alongside Jackie and two of Kennedy’s children. Flags were at half staff in Washington, D.C. and all around the nation, a country remembered and mourned.
The John F. Kennedy Museum in Boston housed thousands of people viewing artifacts, letters, and a video of Kennedy’s funeral. Four large guestbooks were available to sign, and people lined up to sign them, sharing their thoughts and condolences.
“Some people view Kennedy’s assassination as the moment the nation lost its innocence,” said Alex Loughran Lamothe, a 23-year-old volunteer for City Year – an organization modeled on Kennedy’s Peace Corps program – who was helping at the exhibit.
The circumstances surrounding his death remain a mystery today. Many believe Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone when shooting him in the head from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository as the president rode in an open limousine. Jack Ruby, who shot and killed Oswald 2 days later died in prison just 3 years later.
Much controversy surrounds this beloved president’s assassination, but the key players in that violent act are no longer alive to sort it out, nor verify facts.
President Barack Obama, who visited John F. Kennedy’s grave on Wednesday, observed a moment of silence for the slain president, making the comment, “The late president moved people in a way that still resonates with us today.”
On Friday at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, the pain and sorrow was deeply felt as 85-year-old Jean Kennedy Smith, JFK’s last surviving sibling, laid a wreath at her brother’s grave. She and 10 other members of the Kennedy family joined hands and prayed at the foot of the eternal flame.
“A new era dawned and another waned a half century ago when hope and hatred collided right here in Dallas,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in his remarks commemorating Kennedy’s death.
The 35th President’s remarkable combination of “youth” and “grace” and his heroics in the Navy during WWII “moved people in a way that still resonates with us today,” President Obama said.
President John F. Kennedy’s most famous words: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”