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Dallas Honors Kennedy Legacy on 50th Anniversary of Assassination

Dallas Honors Kennedy Legacy on 50th Anniversary of Assassinationi
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November 23, 2013
On November 22, 1963 in Dallas, an assassin's bullets killed President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. On the 50th anniversary of his death, the city that is linked to the tragedy hosted a ceremony honoring the president's life and legacy. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more from Dallas and the Sixth Floor Museum, formerly the Texas School Book Depository from where Lee Harvey Oswald fired his deadly shots.

Dallas Honors Kennedy Legacy on 50th Anniversary of Assassination

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Kane Farabaugh
— On November 22, 1963 in Dallas, an assassin's bullets killed President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. On the 50th anniversary of his death, the city that is linked to the tragedy hosted a ceremony honoring the president's life and legacy. The Sixth Floor Museum, formerly the Texas School Book Depository, is where Lee Harvey Oswald fired his deadly shots.

Though she was a young girl, November 22nd, 1963 has always been a dark moment for Carol Chazdon. “For years after the assassination, whenever I would see the numbers 22 even together and see the words Dallas, it all jumped out at me in red in some way and invoked a lot of scary images, and for a long time I thought I would never come here.”

That kind of reaction prompted city leaders, in the past, to avoid the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, says Sixth Floor  Museum Associate Curator Stephen Fagin.

“I call it this journey from assassination to commemoration because it's about the city stepping away from this fear and anger and frustration, and embracing this as a defining moment in American history, which affected not only Dallas but the nation and the world,” said Fagin.

Also See: VOA Special Report  John F. Kennedy, a Legacy Remembered

The mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, completed that journey in a speech to the thousands gathered in cold and wet Dealey Plaza to mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s death.

“While the past is never in the past, this was a lifetime ago. Now, today, we the people of Dallas, honor the life, leadership and legacy of the man,” said Rawlings.

Planners were careful to craft the ceremony as a tribute to the president, which appealed to Dallas resident Miguel Andrews. “I came here to commemorate the good things JFK did for society.”

Andrews was a young boy living in Mexico City when President Kennedy came to visit in 1962. He showed photos of his father standing next to the president. Andrews said that experience, and Kennedy’s call to land a man on the moon, were inspiring.

“To amass the will of the people to do something for a common cause, which they labeled it as the Space Race, but what we got from that was immeasurable,” said Andrews.

“I think his legacy is that much stronger because it was cut so short, and he was never ever able to see what he set in motion,” said Chazdon.

Despite Chazdon’s lifelong dread of Dallas, she said the commemoration has done much to change her feelings. “I think it's been very thoughtfully planned. I think it was very just and appropriate and I didn’t want to go anywhere else, I wanted to be here, I really wanted to be a part of this.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, would you join me in a moment of silence to honor the memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy,” said Rawlings.

Long after the bells stop ringing in Dallas, people will continue to visit the place where Kennedy died, a place that was the site of chaos and confusion 50 years ago, now a place for reflection and remembrance of a young president’s life cut short.  

Photo Gallery

  • President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy are greeted by an enthusiastic crowd upon their arrival at Dallas Love Field, Texas, Nov. 22, 1963.
  • The presidential limousine carrying President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy is followed by secret servicemen on running boards, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 22, 1963.
  • Seen through the limousine's windshield as it proceeds along Elm Street past the Texas School Book Depository, President John F. Kennedy appears to raise his hand toward his head within seconds of being fatally shot in Dallas, Nov 22, 1963.
  • President John F. Kennedy's limousine speeds along Elm Street toward the Stemmons Freeway overpass moments after he was shot at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, Nov. 22, 1963.
  • Two unidentified women burst into tears outside Parkland Hospital on hearing that President John F. Kennedy died from the bullet fired by an assassin while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963.
  • Lee Harvey Oswald sits in police custody shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, Nov. 22, 1963.
  • Members of the White House staff file past the body of John F. Kennedy, lying in repose in a closed, flag-draped coffin in the historic East Room of the Executive Mansion in Washington, Nov. 23, 1963.
  • Mourners, waiting to view the flag-draped casket of the late President John F. Kennedy in the Capitol rotunda, line the sidewalk as night falls, Nov. 24, 1963.
  • A tearful woman is comforted by a companion as the horse-drawn caisson bearing the body of President John F. Kennedy passes on way to the Capitol, Washington, Nov. 24, 1963.
  • Jacqueline Kennedy, her children Caroline and John Jr., and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy arrive at the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 24, 1963.
  • Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy, is placed on a stretcher after being shot in the stomach in Dallas, Texas, Nov. 24, 1963.
  • Representatives of all branches of the military act as pall bearers during the funeral of President John F. Kennedy as they leave following funeral services at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, Nov. 25, 1963.
  • Three-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. salutes his father's casket in Washington on Nov. 25, 1963.
  • Former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy walks toward the grave of slain President John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, Nov. 28, 1963.

Interactive Timeline
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by: Douglass INSIDER from: D.C.
November 22, 2013 11:34 AM
Historical truth is essential to our understanding, but equally important is Douglass’ dissection of the actions of those in power during the 1950’s and ’60’s in both domestic and international politics. Kennedy, he posits, began as a Cold Warrior committed to Pax Americana secured through superior nuclear military might. But the near cataclysmic disaster of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the isolation Kennedy experienced from his own military advisers forced him to reach out for help both publicly and in secret back-channel memos to his greatest enemy: Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Kennedy had what some leaders might call a conversion. He turned toward peace. When the enemy is seen as human, everything changes. This conversion locked Kennedy into a death spiral with the military industrial complex and the CIA. They now considered JFK a traitor because he reached out to Khrushchev in peace, and because the CIA and the military industrial complex were fanatically committed to what General Curtis E. LeMay described as, “Pax Atomica,” the annihilation of America’s enemies through nuclear war.

Kennedy showcased his new vision in June 1963 during a speech at American University in Washington, D.C., by advocating the absolute necessity for nations to choose peace. “What kind of peace do I mean?” asked Kennedy. “Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living …” He spoke of his intentions to establish a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and he acknowledged the Russian people wanted peace as much as the American people.

It was this speech, Mr. Douglass says, that prompted “The Unspeakable” in the form of people within the U.S. inttelligence and the military industrial complex to act. Mr. Douglass tells us that Kennedy was well aware of his enemies and he was well aware of the dangers facing him. He tells the story that, until now, I don’t think America was ready to hear. It’s an old story of “prophets, kings and consequences”. It’s a story of how President Kennedy nearly started a nuclear war then turned toward peace with the enemy who almost started it with him It’s our story it desperately needs to be remembered and never forgotten.

In Response

by: Stan Chaz
November 23, 2013 2:48 AM
We are all battered by the brutal storms of life.
Some hide and moan, and whimper in fear.
But some ....some respond with courage
-- and with strengthened determination and resolve.
President Kennedy quoted George Bernard Shaw when he said:
Some look at things that are, and ask “why?”.
I dream of things that never were and ask “why not?”.
Hope and the human spirit persevere and live on,
and cannot be killed.
That is the eternal flame in each of us.


by: dan from: Vancouver
November 22, 2013 11:25 AM
Kennedy was shot by the front end of McCarthyite zeitgeist who found him too soft on communist infiltration and global Commintern.

Oswald was a Herbert Philbrick wannabe, who donned the latter's Marxist-style Halloween costume and went trick or treating to any American audience who would listen, but became strangely indifferent to ideology in his Russian days, digs and lifestyle.

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