The day John F. Kennedy died, an entire nation stopped in its tracks. His assassination-the first successful attempt on a president’s life in more than 60 years-was as unexpected as it was crippling to the American morale. Though half a century has now passed, an entire generation still has the events of that fateful November morning forever emblazoned in their memory.
Kennedy, after some thousand days in office, was visiting Dallas to garner support for the upcoming election year. With a radiant Jackie Kennedy by his side–the picture of youth in a pink Chanel suit and matching pillbox hat–the young president waved to the crowd from his motorcade, brimming with energy and confidence, a beloved symbol of the country’s success.
But with three shots, the entire vision went up in smoke.
The television broadcast, still in its nascent years as a medium for delivering news, was quickly interrupted. Visibly holding back emotion, CBS anchor Walter Cronkite read the now infamous bulletin: “From Dallas, Texas, the flash–apparently official–President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time, 2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.”
Those words, and Lee Harvey Oswald’s bullets, sent U.S. history spiraling off course into a decade of turmoil. Indeed, November 22, 1963 changed everything.
The Ramapo News spoke to Ramapo faculty and staff members about their recollections of the JFK assassination 50 years later and the young leader’s legacy.