Dallas, Texas – November 22, 2023
This Wednesday marks six decades since the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy, an event etched into the annals of history that sent shockwaves across the globe and plunged the United States into a collective state of shock, disbelief, and mourning.
On November 22, 1963, the nation was gripped by the harrowing news that Kennedy’s motorcade had been targeted by rifle shots as it approached Dealey Plaza. The President succumbed to his injuries approximately an hour later at a Dallas hospital, concluding a manhunt that ended with the apprehension of Lee Harvey Oswald in a local movie theater.
An estimated 300 million people worldwide, including nearly 95% of all Americans, tuned in to witness the mourning rituals unfold. This period signified the beginning of a fresh era in media, as the primary television networks, namely ABC, CBS, and NBC, stayed on the air continuously for four consecutive days. This marked the first instance in history where these networks delivered live, uninterrupted coverage of a national crisis.
Haunting images of Jackie Kennedy’s blood-stained pink dress, a poignant 2-year-old boy’s farewell salute to his father, and the rider-less white horse became indelibly imprinted in the memories of those who lived through the tumultuous 1960s.
“The only thing on television anywhere in the country was the Kennedy assassination,” remarked former CBS News anchor Dan Rather.
Less than a day after the unfortunate death of Kennedy, recently inaugurated President Lyndon Johnson released his initial presidential declaration, officially assigning November 25, 1963, as a nationwide day of mourning in honor of President Kennedy’s funeral. Throughout the country, educational institutions, businesses, and government offices shut down as a gesture of observance of Kennedy’s passing. Numerous events, both on a national and local scale, were canceled as a demonstration of respect for the late president.
“I earnestly recommend the people to assemble on that day in their respective places of divine worship, there to bow down in submission to the will of Almighty God, and to pay their homage of love and reverence to the memory of a great and good man,” Johnson proclaimed in a publicly broadcasted statement.
The funeral and procession of President Kennedy, which led to Arlington National Cemetery, attracted representatives from 92 nations, while a million individuals lined the streets, as reported by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. As the nation reflects on this somber anniversary, the memories of that fateful day and its aftermath remain an enduring part of America’s collective history.