JFK 50th: Memories of a president lost abound on 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination

Published November 22, 2013

| Associated Press

Fifty years after John F. Kennedy fell victim to an assassin's bullet while visiting Texas with his wife, people at home and abroad paused Friday to remember the 35th president of the United States. Collected here are memories of the slain president, details from the day of his death and live updates from the memorial service at Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

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PLAZA PREPARATIONS

About 10:45 a.m. Friday at Dealey Plaza, an American flag and Texas flag flew at half-staff, flanking the stage where the city was set to hold a solemn ceremony in the coming hours.

Workers were drying off seats placed in front of the stage for attendees. A giant scrim with JFK's image could be seen behind the stage.

In the non-seated areas on each side, people were standing and watching large screens showing footage from Kennedy's visits to Berlin and Ireland. Earlier, the screens showed footage of Kennedy spending time with his family.

— Reported by Jamie Stengle in Dallas.

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MEMORY OF KENNEDY: U.S. SEN. EDWARD MARKEY, 67, Boston

A 17-year-old student at Malden Catholic High School near Boston, Edward Markey was attending an afternoon football rally when one of the religious brothers took the microphone and broke the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.

For Markey, who grew up in a working-class Irish Catholic family and would later represent Massachusetts in Congress for 37 years before winning a special election to the U.S. Senate earlier this year, Kennedy's success was a validation of his own life.

"I remember watching the 1956 convention when John F. Kennedy ran for vice president and all of the commentators saying he could not win because he was Irish and Catholic and from Massachusetts and that's who I was. So that was an important to me," Markey said. "When he won (his race for president in 1960), he immediately became someone who changed perceptions of how the country viewed Irish Catholics.

"He was very smart, very graceful."

Markey said in time, he realized Kennedy's appeal transcended his Boston roots.

"It turned out he wasn't just our hero, every ethnic group in the country in some way saw themselves in him," Markey said. "We were part of this larger group."

— Reported by Steve LeBlanc in Boston.

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TALK ABOUT THE WEATHER

By the time President John F. Kennedy landed at Dallas' Love Field late in the morning on Nov. 22, 1963, rain clouds had given way to brilliant blue skies and the temperature had climbed to the high 60s. The high temperature that day was 70.

By contrast, Friday's 50th anniversary ceremony will be cold — temperatures in the mid-30s with winds around 25 mph and a chance of light spotty rain. About 5,000 are expected to gather in Dealey Plaza for the solemn ceremony. The expected high Friday is 38.

"Texans are tough and a crisp day won't prevent us from marking this important time in history," Mayor Mike Rawlings said.

"We believe this important event cannot be duplicated in another location, so the commemoration will take place ... as planned," he added.

— Reported by Jamie Stengle in Dallas.

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DISPATCH FROM DUBLIN

Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore joined the staff of the U.S. Embassy and more than a dozen retired Irish army officers who, as teenage cadets, had formed an honor guard at President John F. Kennedy's graveside in November 1963.

Together, they gathered Friday in the front garden of the embassy in the heart of Dublin to observe a minute's silence and lay two wreaths from the Irish and American governments in memory of JFK. The day was crisp, windless, with trees full of autumn leaves and a cloudless blue sky, the sun blindingly low on the horizon.

A half-dozen Irish soldiers toting guns with brilliantly polished bayonets formed their own guard of honor outside the embassy as the U.S. flag was lowered to half-staff. Their commander drew a sword and held it aloft as a lone trumpeter played "The Last Post," the traditional British salute to war dead. A bagpiper played laments, and then a U.S. Marine raised the flag again as the bugler sounded an upbeat "Reveille."

Inside the embassy, staff observed from the building's circular balconies as Gilmore paid tribute to JFK's legacy. Frankie Gavin — a fiddler who was six years old when he performed with his family's band for Kennedy during his June 29, 1963, visit to the western Irish city of Galway — played a lament and a jig.

— Reported by Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/11/22/jfk-50th-memories-president-lost-abound-on-50th-anniversary-kennedy/