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The day that changed America

FPS staff report

JFK Each generation has one monumental event that stays with you and is never forgotten.

For many, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was that moment. As we approach the 50th anniversary, people remember where they were and how they were feeling as if it happened yesterday. Those affected by the event say it was a desperate time and feel it was the biggest tragedy in the history of United States.

Readers and Facebook friends took the time to tell us where they were and/or how they heard the news of the horrific event.

•Gary Griffith, a third grade student, was sitting in class when Miss Graham, the teacher, announced President Kennedy had been shot!

•Rosalie Nowalk said, “I had just turned eight years old and was in my third grade classroom at St. Joseph’s in Amsterdam. I remember I was sitting on the right side of the room and class stopped when someone came in with the news.

I remember watching TV a little later with my family and seeing Lee Harvey Oswald get shot. Everything was in black and white.”

•Paula Miller was in Latin class at Conotton Valley High School when she heard the news.

•Barb Dunkle was in the 4th grade at Harlem Springs School. She said, “I was in class and I didn’t understand what had happened, but I knew it was something terrible because all the teachers were crying.”

•Pamm Moledor-Sedon was in the first grade and remembers being sent home early. Later she sat with her parents watching their little black and white TV all evening. David Brinkley and Walter Conkrite were reporting and kept stopping to wipe tears from their eyes.

•Sharon Mclean was a cashier at Al’s IGA in Carrollton. She was standing at the register when the news came over the store radio. Everyone got quiet and was in shock. It was a very sad day.”

•Dick and Glo (Lumley) Rector were in Minerva shopping at Gayree Scotts when they heard of the assassination. The couple was married Nov. 23 and said out of respect they did not have their precession blow car horns nor did they drag tin cans from the back of the car. “It was a tragic time,” noted Dick.

•Mary Ann Miller recalled that day. She was living in the basement of her home on Sterling Ave., feeding her son, while workers were building the top portion of the house.
“Lindsay Smith came in and said the President has been shot,” she said. “It was such a shock. We turned the television on and that was all that was on the TV for a long time.”

•Ruby Gilliam was at home watching television when she learned of the assassination. “At the time, we didn’t realize what was happening. We saw the President and the commotion,” she stated. “Then when it hit home, it was terrible.” Looking back on the 50th anniversary, Gilliam said, “It’s done and over. It became a different world.”

•Don Rutledge, who was working as a draftsman for General Telephone Company was having lunch in New Philadelphia when the announcement came. “To sum it all up, we were all shocked beyond belief,” he stated. “It was hard to concentrate at our jobs the remainder of the day. Everyone was then glued to their televisions for the evening news coverage.”

Rutledge, also noted, he was a member of a Canton band who performed in Canton Memorial Auditorium during John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign stop in Canton.

While conspiracy theories continue run rampid 50 years later, the iconic pink Chanel suit and its accessories, still stained, remain essentially unchanged from the day of the assassination. The items are stored in a vault at the National Archives. Caroline Kennedy, the legal owner, deeded the items as a gift in 2003 with the provision that the suit would not be seen by the public until 2103.

Tom Brokaw, a journalist and former NBC Nightly News anchor, was on duty in the newsroom when the United Press International wire-service machine began to sound its bulletin bells. He wrote in his book “Boom! Voices of the Sixties”, “I walked over casually and began to read a series of sentences breaking in staccato fashion...’THREE SHOTS WERE FIRED AT PRESIDENT KENNEDY’S MOTORCADE IN DOWNTOWN DALLAS...FLASH-KENNEDY SERIOUSLY WOUNDED, PERHAPS FATALLY BY ASSASSIN’S BULLET...PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY DIED AT APPROXIMATELY 1:00 PM (CST).’

John F. Kennedy, the man I thought would define the political ideal for the rest of my days, was suddenly gone in the senseless violence of a single moment.”

He wrote of how the gunshots in Dealey Plaza triggered a series of historic changes, Vietnam and the fall of Lyndon B. Johnson as president through the disgrace of Richard Nixon. “This doesn’t happen in America,” he said (in the book), still a child of the innocence of the Fifties. And then I distinctly remember thinking, This will change us. I don’t know how, but this will change us.”

He stated in his book, “It was Nov. 22, 1963, and it was, in effect, the beginning of what we now call the Sixties.”

Clint Hill, special agent in the US Secret Service, was one of the agents assigned to protect First Lady Jackie Kennedy. He is pictured in the infamous photo showing Jackie trying to crawl onto the truck of the presidential limousine. In his book “Mrs. Kennedy and Me” he wrote, “I heard a sudden explosive noise, over my right shoulder, from the back of the motorcade...I saw President Kennedy grab at this throat and lurch to his left...I thrust myself onto the trunk, grabbed her and pushed her back into the seat...I twisted around to make eye contact with the follow-up car. They had to know how bad it was...I gave them the thumbs-down sign and shook my head.”

Numerous books have been written about John F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy and the Kennedy family. Several new books are being published in accordance of the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death.

They include: “Five Days in November” by Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin; “End of Days”, “Dallas 1963” and “The Interloper” by Peter Savodnik about Lee Harvey Oswald; plus others not listed.

Life Magazine has published “LIFE The Day Kennedy Died: 50 Year Later” with an eight-page fold-out reproducing all 486 frames from Abraham Zapruder’s home movie.

Two books for fiction lovers are on bookshelves, “Top Down” and “If Kennedy Lived” along with previously released “11/22/63: A Novel” by Stephen King.


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