JFK 50th: Nation pauses to remember lost president

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MEMORY OF KENNEDY: FRANKIE GAVIN, GALWAY, IRELAND

Fiddler Frankie Gavin was just 6 years old when he performed with his musician family for President John F. Kennedy as his motorcade passed though the western Ireland city on June 29, 1963.

“I never got quite close enough to shake his hand. I really regret that,” Gavin recalled Friday at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, where he performed a lament and a jig to celebrate JFK’s memory in front of an audience that included diplomats, Irish army officers and the Vatican’s envoy to Ireland.

Gavin, who is credited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s fastest fiddler, played only one verse of the lament because he said, he could feel himself tearing up.

“There’s a sense of his (JFK’s) presence here today. . The moment was getting to me.”

He recalled that on Nov. 22, 1963, he and his older brother and two older sisters were playing Gaelic football together on a sloping field behind a thatched-roof pub in the village of Corrandulla, County Galway.

“My father ran out the back door of the pub and said President John F. Kennedy’s been shot,” he said. “We were all frozen to the spot, on the side of a hill playing a game of football. There was just silence.

“Then I later remember everyone going into the house and we saw our parents crying. When you see your parents crying, you start crying too. My brother and sisters and parents crying, all of us — that moment remains impaled in my memory.”

— Reported by Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin.

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1:38 P.M. CST: ‘I DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR’

Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson stood grimly aboard Air Force One at Dallas’ Love Field, right hand raised as he was sworn in as the 36th president of the United States at 1:38 p.m. Nov. 22, 1963.

He was flanked by his wife and Kennedy’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, still wearing a pink suit stained with blood. “I want them to see what they have done to Jack,” she told Lady Bird Johnson.

Johnson was the first and only president to be sworn in on Air Force One. U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes was the first woman to administer the oath.

The plane, with Kennedy’s casket secured inside, quickly took off for Washington.

The AP sent out a bulletin at 2:35 p.m. saying “a 24-year-old man, Lee H. Oswald” had been arrested and was being “interrogated to see if he had any connection with the slaying of the President.”

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1:37 P.M. CST: The Associated Press published a series of “bulletin” and “flash” stories on Nov. 22, 1963, in covering Kennedy’s assassination. The following was sent at 1:37 p.m. Central Standard Time.

FLASH

DALLAS — PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED AT 1 P.M. (CST)

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CONSPIRACY CONTINUES

To this day, a clear majority of Americans still believe that Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t act alone and there was a conspiracy behind Kennedy’s assassination.

The Warren Commission, appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, concluded that Oswald was solely responsible for the president’s death.

But according to an Associated Press-GfK survey conducted in mid-April, 59 percent of Americans think multiple people were involved, 24 percent think Oswald acted alone and 16 percent are unsure. That’s down from the 75 percent of Americans who believed in a conspiracy in 2003, according to a Gallup poll taken that year.

Opinions about whether the Warren Commission got it right don’t appear to be driven by whether those surveyed were alive in 1963. They were almost as likely as younger Americans to say that Kennedy’s killing was a conspiracy involving multiple people — 55 percent, compared to 61 percent — according to the AP-GfK poll.

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The Associated Press published a series of “bulletin” and “flash” stories on Nov. 22, 1963, in covering Kennedy’s assassination. The following was sent at 1:32 p.m. Central Standard Time.

FLASH

DALLAS — TWO PRIESTS WHO WERE WITH KENNEDY SAY HE IS DEAD OF BULLET WOUNDS.

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1:27 P.M. CST: The Associated Press published a series of “bulletin” and “flash” stories on Nov. 22, 1963, in covering Kennedy’s assassination. The following was sent at 1:27 p.m. Central Standard Time.

BULLETIN

PRESIDENT WAS GIVEN THE LAST HOLY RITES OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH TODAY AFTER AN ASSASSIN SHOT HIM DOWN WHILE THE PRESIDENT WAS RIDING IN A CARAVAN.

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AUTHOR’S TAKE

Author and historian David McCullough says John F. Kennedy’s words changed lives and history, and that much of what he said still applies today.

McCullough read excerpts of some of Kennedy’s most well-known speeches during Friday’s ceremony at Dealey Plaza.

He says Kennedy spoke of things that mattered, including education, service to one’s country and the cause of peace on Earth. And he says Kennedy spoke to the point, with confidence and without “stale platitudes.”

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