RICHMOND (WRIC)—On this 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination, 8News is looking back at America's 35th president and why he's so revered today. His assassination shook the nation to its core, and Kennedy's untimely end still defines his legacy today.
President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy landed in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22, 1963 for an unofficial campaign stop, to shore up support in the Lone Star State for re-election in 1964. Their motorcade rolled through Dallas without incident—until they reached Dealey Plaza. There he was assassinated.
Kennedy's assassination was captured on film without sound. America's cries afterward were heard around the world.
"All of a sudden I just felt some sorrow, a lot of sorrow," said Pierre "Pete" Eichen. "I can't really describe it, because it was some time ago."
Eichen and his wife waited six hours to pay their respects at the U.S. Capitol, where Kennedy laid in state.
"It was a very dramatic experience—just to be there with the people and pass by the coffin," Eichen said.
Enid Gray didn't like Kennedy politics, but mourned just the same.
"There was a great sadness over the whole town … whether or not they were for Kennedy or not," Gray said. "It was just sad."
Nowhere was that sadness more profound than in America's black communities. Kennedy raised the minimum wage, improving the lives of those at the bottom of the economic ladder. He also proposed civil rights legislation.
"He was movin' us forward, out of the segregation period—integratin' our schools and stuff like that," Carolyn Murphy said.
Kennedy used the National Guard to make sure James Merideth was admitted to the University of Mississippi.
"They thought he'd do a lot for the country and make changes," Edmond Weaver said. "They felt like he was one of the greatest world leaders that we ever had."
Kennedy's legacy in American history comes to us through the lens of a camera. We have moving pictures of debates that launched him into office, the glamour of his wife and family, his untimely death. Even the death of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald at the hands of Jack Ruby is caught on camera.
Never before had a presidency been captured so precisely. And Kennedy's youth, promise and vigor will be frozen forever in 1963. We will never see him lose, or wither, or age.
"We have this in rock ‘n' roll, too," said Richard Meagher, an assistant professor of political science at Randolph-Macon College. "We think less about what they accomplished and more about what was lost, or what we think was lost. I think the same operates with Kennedy."
In a culture that swoons for celebrity, Kennedy will always be one of the kings among presidents.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
301 Arboretum Place, Richmond
Can't find something?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.