We recently asked readers to share their memories about Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, when John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. in Dallas. We received more than 200 submissions — both by email and handwritten letters — from readers ranging from those who had just been born 50 years ago to those who were already nearly 50 then.
We heard from a reader whose mother loaded up the station wagon and took her and seven siblings to the parade in Dallas and one who heard the news on a two-way radio while serving in the Peace Corps in Liberia. Because the announcement came in the middle of the day, many readers were in school and heard the news from a principal or teacher.
Gloria Frey, an 87-year-old former teacher, sent photocopies from a scrapbook she kept of what her Paxton-area students wrote a few months after the assassination. Wrote 7-year-old Dawn Ruser: “I was in the basment. We were playing on the teluphone. I just about cryd when Mother came in and said President Kennedy was shot.”
Many readers spoke of the shock, the silence, the universal reaction of extreme sorrow. Most said they watched TV nearly nonstop that weekend; some recalled being tuned in to see Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald on Sunday morning, and many talked about the funeral on Monday with memories of the rider-less horse, the caisson bearing the casket and little John-John’s salute.