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Remembering The Kennedy Assassination, Fifty Years On

On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, we remember the day, the man and the nation before and after.

A photo of JKF and flowers lay on a plaque at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Loose gatherings of the curious and conspiracy-minded at Dallas’ Dealey Plaza have marked past anniversaries of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But for the 50th anniversary, the city of Dallas has planned a solemn ceremony Friday in the plaza he was passing through when shots rang out. (AP)

A photo of JKF and flowers lay on a plaque at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Loose gatherings of the curious and conspiracy-minded at Dallas’ Dealey Plaza have marked past anniversaries of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But for the 50th anniversary, the city of Dallas has planned a solemn ceremony Friday in the plaza he was passing through when shots rang out. (AP)

November 22nd, 1963.  No American alive that day is likely ever to forget.  The president, the country was told – John F. Kennedy, young, vibrant, magnetic – was dead.  Assassinated.  Shot in Dallas in an open car, wife Jackie at his side.  For fifty years, that terrible, stunning day has been held in national memory.  The idea of a Camelot up against the memory of a shameful, shocking killing.  A killing we would come to see on TV.  This hour, On Point:  for those who remember and for the millions not then born, remembering JFK, and the end that shocked the world.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Robert Dallek, presidential historian and author of “Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House.” Also author of “An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963.

Robert MacNeil, longtime news anchor at PBS’ MacNeil / Lehrer NewsHour. Host of the special documentary radio project, “We Knew JFK.” Author of “The Way We Were: 1963, The Year Kennedy Was Shot.”

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

Forbes: Why John F. Kennedy’s Legacy Endures 50 Years After His Assassination — “Most Americans had an emotional response to John F. Kennedy. Either they loved him, admired his youthful vigor, and enjoyed his great wit; or they hated him, thought his father had stolen the presidential election for him, and distrusted him because he was the first Catholic to claim the presidency. In either case, those emotions became tangled up in the story of his death. ”

Washington Post: Book review: ‘Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House’ by Robert Dallek — “Kennedy was devoted to the Great Man theory of history. As he spoke about Churchill, Stalin and Napoleon, ‘his eyes shone with a particular glitter, and it was quite clear that he thought in terms of great men and what they were able to do, not at all of impersonal forces,’ observed the British historian Isaiah Berlin after several conversations with Kennedy at White House dinners. But of course even the greatest men, from time to time, need wise advisers to battle the impersonal forces.”

New York Times: Jacqueline Kennedy’s Smart Pink Suit, Preserved in Memory and Kept Out of View — “For the half century since John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, the most famous artifact from that day, one of the most recognizable articles of clothing ever worn, has been seen by almost no one. Now preserved by the National Archives in a climate-controlled vault outside of Washington, it is subject to Kennedy family restrictions that it not be seen for almost a century more. If there is a single item that captures both the shame and the violence that erupted that day, and the glamour and artifice that preceded it, it is Jackie Kennedy’s bloodstained pink suit, a tantalizing window on fame and fashion, her allure and her steely resolve, the things we know about her and the things we never quite will.”

Read An Excerpt Of Robert Dallek’s “Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House”

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