US remembers Kennedy 50 years after assassination COMMENTS (280)
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The US is marking 50 years since President John F Kennedy was killed by an assassin's bullet in Dallas, Texas. The city, which has long struggled with the legacy of the assassination, hosts a series of official events on Friday. Kennedy is often ranked among the nation's most revered presidents, though he served less than three years. He is commemorated for his youthful vigour, his leadership through the Cuban missile crisis, and his challenge to America to put a man on the Moon. But he is also remembered for ordering one of the most disastrous episodes of the Cold War, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of communist Cuba by a CIA-trained paramilitary force of Cuban exiles. Continue reading the main story “Start Quote
The older generation who remember Kennedy the best perhaps look back through a golden haze”
[color][font] Mark MardellNorth America editor [/font][/color]
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Kennedy's family members laid a wreath on his grave at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington DC on Friday. His wife Jackie and two of their children are also buried there. Nearby, President Barack Obama ordered the White House flag be flown at half mast. "Today, we honor his memory and celebrate his enduring imprint on American history," Mr Obama wrote on Thursday. Mr Obama is also scheduled to meet with leaders of the Kennedy-established Peace Corps programme. Among official events in Dallas on Friday, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra will perform, Mayor Michael Rawlings will give an address, and bells will toll at the minute of Kennedy's death. Only 5,000 people will be able attend the ceremonies in Dealey Plaza, but video feeds of the events will be piped to special screens set up throughout the downtown area. Elsewhere, a wreath laying ceremony was planned in the German capital Berlin where Kennedy gave his Cold War-era "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in June 1963. Those events and others conclude a week of tributes to the slain American leader. Kennedy, a Democrat, was part of one of the most prominent US political dynasties of the 20th Century. His father, Joseph, was a wealthy businessman who served in senior positions in the government of President Franklin Roosevelt, including as ambassador to Britain. Two of his brothers later served as US senators and ran for president. One of them, Robert, was himself assassinated in 1968. Edward Kennedy, who died in 2009, was a champion of progressive causes including universal healthcare. John Kennedy's daughter Caroline is now the US ambassador to Japan. Shots rang out On 22 November 1963, Kennedy and Jackie travelled to Dallas for early campaigning ahead of the following year's election.
A British nurse in the Dallas hospital when JFK was shot and others recall learning of his death Crowds of supporters lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the couple. As the presidential motorcade entered Dealey Plaza at around 12:30 local time (18:30 GMT), Kennedy's convertible passed the Texas School Book Depository. Gunshots rang out across the plaza. Bullets struck the president in the head and neck. Half an hour later, Kennedy was pronounced dead at a local hospital. He was the fourth US president assassinated while in office, but the first to have his death captured on film. Continue reading the main story John F Kennedy 1917-1963
JFK: What were the key moments in his life? Clips from Kennedy’s most famous speeches Why is JFK still so popular? Soon after, Vice-President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president aboard Air Force One. Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine Corps veteran and Soviet defector employed at the depository at the time, was arrested in connection with the shooting. On 24 November 1963, he was scheduled to be transferred from police headquarters to a county jail when he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner. Official inquiries have determined Oswald alone was responsible for the assassination, but Kennedy's murder has provided endless fodder for conspiracy theorists. Members of one such group plan to wear T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "50 years in denial is enough" near Dealey Plaza on Friday. 'Look of horror' The events of that November plunged the nation into mourning, and many Americans still recall where they were when they heard the news. Texan Daniel Kendrick, who as a teenager witnessed the shooting, told the BBC he had been preparing to approach the motorcade in the hope of shaking the president's hand when Kennedy's "head just exploded". "I saw the look on Jackie Kennedy's face," he recalled. "She turned and looked straight at me with a look of horror on her face. That really freaked me out. I had to run." Historian Robert Dallek said America had yet to recover from the assassination, in part because it was such a tremendous blow to the nation's self-esteem. "The feeling is, this is not what we do in American politics," he told the BBC. "This is not a banana republic. We don't have coups d'etat, we don't topple governments and kill our leaders." Mr Dallek said Kennedy's popularity endured in part because Americans have been so disappointed in his successors. "People want a better life in this country," he said. "They want to think their children are going to do better. And they associate this with Kennedy's youth, his promise, possibility."