There are not many tragedies in American history that remains so fresh in our collective consciousness like President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, 50 years ago today.
So much of that day’s events were captured on television as the events unfolded and many can still remember where they were that day. People who were there are recalling the events and journalists are explaining how they covered it. Today, the country is remembering Kennedy’s legacy and the shock of hearing news of his death.
“I remember it as if it were yesterday,” former President Bill Clinton told NBC News’ Tom Brokaw. “He meant something to the country and he symbolized the future. And it was as if he was snuffed out.”
The city of Dallas is still coming to grips with its role in the events of that day. According to the New York Times, there will be a ceremony at Dealey Plaza, the location in downtown Dallas where Kennedy was shot. It’s set to start at 11:30 a.m. and church bells will be ringing. Historian David McCullough will be on hand to reach parts of Kennedy’s speeches. And at 12:30 p.m., there will be a moment of silence to mark when Kennedy was shot.
Dallas has never marked the anniversary with such a big ceremony, but Mayor Michael S. Rawlings, civic and religious leaders managed to raise $3 million from private donations to set it up. There were 5,000 tickets available through a lottery and screens will be set up for people who didn’t get a ticket.
Boston’s JFK Presidential Library and Museum will also have an exhibit with never-before-seen artifacts from Kennedy’s life. One of the items that will go on display there today is the flag draped over the president’s coffin. In Washington, President Barack Obama will meet with the current Peace Corps leaders, since Kennedy created the program in 1961.
NBC is also marking the anniversary with a special called The Day JFK Died, which airs at 9 p.m.