On Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, shocking the country and signaling a change in the atmosphere of America that would then lead to Vietnam and the turbulent, protest-filled 1960s. Other than some television and news specials, there is surprisingly not a lot of national remembrances or events marking this historic occasion.
One interesting thing is, according to a story I read in Yahoo news, several of the original Secret Service agents are finally speaking out on the events, offering their perspective for the first time publicly, in some cases. According to Variety, there is also an upcoming feature film set to star Leonardo DiCaprio that deals with the theories that the Mob was behind the killing.
When President Kennedy was shot, I was on the faculty of Colorado State University on my way to have lunch at the student center. At first, the news was that he was shot and being treated at a Dallas hospital. We would later learn he was killed instantly, but officials didn’t want to admit it until they could get Vice President Lyndon Johnson notified to take over as president.
About an hour after the shooting, the news went out that he was dead. One thing I do remember specifically was that most people in the lunchroom were very quiet and sad, but a bunch of students began making mindlessly sick jokes. Some other students and faculty were mad as hell about the disrespect and made them shut up.
I also remember it as the first television news event, with everything happening live, in real time. My main thoughts were that JFK was such a vital, young guy with so much promise and suddenly he was gone. All TV networks broadcast every moment after that, including the swearing in of Johnson, the ceremony in the Capitol building, the funeral parade, 4-year-old John Jr saluting as the procession passed. Another monumental moment of the weekend was the capture of Lee Harvey Oswald and graphic video of how he was killed by Jack Ruby while being escorted by Dallas police.
No one knew it at that time, but I feel the remarks of those cynical students symbolized the beginnings of what became the big student protest movements of the ’60s, because it was Kennedy who first sent several hundred U.S. Army advisers to the South Vietnam army. Kennedy’s death was just a year or two before Johnson upped the U.S. involvement in Vietnam with half a million Army, Navy and Marine forces.
Brett Michael Dykes “Ex-Secret Service officerL I almost shot LBJ” Yahoo News via news.yahoo.com
Dave McNary “DiCaprio to Star in JFK Tale” Variety via variety.com