Where Were You When JFK Was Shot?

As it did 50 years ago today, the nation’s eyes will fall upon Dealey Square in Dallas, the fateful location of John F. Kennedy’s death.

At just after noon today, observers in Dealey Square will hold a moment of silence to honor the President’s memory. Minutes before, bells all over Dallas are planned to toll in remembrance.

This morning featured other commemorations to this solemn day in American history. At a bagpipe ceremony in Washington, D.C, Jean Kennedy Smith, the last living sibling of JFK, visited his grave at Arlington Cemetery and laid a wreath to remember her brother’s life.

On the Grassy Knoll, the infamous section of land near Dealey Square, a new JFK monument will be unveiled during a ceremony, inscribed with the final paragraph of the speech Kennedy intended to deliver later that day on November 22, 1963. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough will read famous excerpts from Kennedy’s speeches, paying tribute to the President’s legacy of addressing a nation in peril.

Parkland Hospital, where the President died after the fatal shooting, will lower their flag to half-staff. And The Texas Theatre will screen part of the movie “War Is Hell,” the film that Oswald slipped into without paying shortly before being apprehended by police.

Do you remember where you were the morning of JFK’s death? What does his life mean to you? 

Pay witness to the final day of JFK’s life with Killing Kennedy tonight at 9P.

Comments

  1. Kathryn Atha
    Atlanta GA
    November 22, 2013, 6:42 pm

    Broadcasters say there are only 30% of us who even remember where we were 50 years ago. But I’m one of those old folks who definitely remembers. I was in Dallas on street curb and I saw President Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy, Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie as they drove away from Love Field Airport on a day that would bring a litany of death into my young life that would always define me as part of the Baby Boomer generation.
    My father, a college professor in the small Texas town of Commerce, one hour north east of Dallas, had taken my brother and I out of Wheeler middle school to go see the President of the United States and his wife as they rode in a Dallas motorcade on the route published in the newspaper. Daddy had an invitation to the Trade Mart to hear Kennedy speak but he chose to take his kids to see the President in person instead—noble I am sure, but probably cheaper than the tickets needed to get a seat at the luncheon event. My brother was in the 7th grade and I was in the 8th grade and I was enamored with the Kennedys; I watched every Kennedy press conference, followed his speeches, and copied every dress Jackie Kennedy wore….we were a Democratic family in a state with only Democrats. In that day there were Liberal Democrats, like my father and John Kennedy and Conservative Democrats like Governor John Connally.
    My Dad found the perfect spot and we had arrived there early. My memory is that we were on the curb across from the Dr Pepper bottling plant, and we could see the motorcade as it came down the road from Love Field and then turned in front of us with the President and his wife only feet from where we were standing. The waves, the huge smile, that pink suit almost close enough to touch! It was thrilling! We were so excited! As a parent now, I realize the pride my father, a World War II veteran must have felt to give his kids this experience. On the way to Dallas, we had laughed about Kennedy going deer hunting with Vice President Lyndon Johnson and how the President should be careful. And in one of the city buses that passed by, a poster was in the back window saying “Kennedy is a traitor” or some such derogatory handwritten epitaph. It reminded my father of the hostility dwelling in Dallas but the excited crowds were so happy and excited that it was easy to ignore the haters.
    It was noon, and we went out to eat which was pretty exciting for kids from a small town with one café—but I can’t remember what we ate; I only remember begging my father to take us back to Love Field so we could see the President as he left Dallas. And we were off to Love Field to see our young handsome President and beautiful wife. We were delayed by a white ambulance and dozens of police on motorcycles and we waited patiently while it passed by us. We walked into Love Field, thought we were early and in those days you could walk to the gate where passengers departed to board planes. Daddy knew where to take us to see the President close up one more time. At the end of the hallway, there was a police officer and man in a brown trench coat at a pay phone. My father went up to the police officer to ask if President Kennedy would be coming this way and explained his kids wanted to see the President. Words that would cut through to reality—“Sir, President Ken–, I mean President Johnson has already boarded the plane…” My father said it all, “What do you mean President Johnson?” And the response, “Sir, President Kennedy was shot and killed today.” The man in the quintessential tan trench coat was a reporter who came over to tell my father the details…the words are still a blur, I just remember my father surrounding his arms around my shoulders and my brother’s and saying “I’ve got to get my kids out of this town”….
    And so we had participated in a tiny moment of history with thousands of other people in Dallas and we home to our small town and watched the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, the funeral of our President and the valor of his wife and family on our black and white television with a mourning nation.
    In three years, in 1966 my father would also be dead, in May 1968 Martin Luther King would be assassinated; in June 1968 Robert Kennedy would be assassinated. In May 1972 when George Wallace was shot I was new graduate looking for an apartment in Dallas where I had just been hired by the Dallas Morning News. I remember sitting on a curb feeling like everyone was being shot and dying. It is a defining feeling that separates the Baby Boomers from all other generations. Something my kids will never quite understand…

  2. Barbara Patterson
    Alamogordo, New Mexico
    November 24, 2013, 9:21 pm

    I was 19 years old and it would have been the first time I had gotten to vote. I was pregnant with my first child and was home making preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. I had the TV going as I worked in my kitchen. The news broke and they said the President had been shot and killed. I was floored. He would have been the first President I got to vote for and was looking forward to it because I thought he made a great President. In a flash everything in this country changed and would never be and wasn’t what I had hoped my future and the futures of my children would be. With his death this country changed and has continued to change and not for the better.

  3. Glenn Sedgwick
    Milwaukee WI
    November 26, 2013, 10:51 am

    My first day home from college, Thanksgiving break. My mom and I talked for hours. We knew nothing, till my sister came home early from high school, crying. Events of similar “I remember where I was” impact: Challenger disaster and 9-11.