Somber nation marks 50th anniversary of JFK death - KMSP-TV

Dallas marks 50th anniversary of JFK's death

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  • Remembering JFK

    Remembering JFK

    Learn more about the fatal day in 1963. Watch vintage and exclusive raw video, interviews and news coverage from the time of the assassination.
    Learn more about the fatal day in 1963. Watch vintage and exclusive raw video, interviews and news coverage from the time of the assassination.
DALLAS -

Dallas reflected and commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in a somber and thoughtful ceremony in Dealey Plaza on Friday.

"It seems we all grew up that day, city and citizens," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. "Our collective hearts were broken."

A crowd of a few thousand turned out for the event, braving near-freezing temperatures and rain during the event in Dealey Plaza. Only people with tickets or media credentials were allowed in. Others, including conspiracy theorists, gathered nearby at the Old Red Courthouse where a screen showed the event.

In an 11 minute speech, Rawlings touched on the reaction of the city and its leaders to the assassination and the enduring legacy of Kennedy.

"Hope and hatred collided right here in Dallas," Rawlings said of Nov. 22, 1963.

Rawlings said the spotlight was put on Dallas after the assassination and the city used the event to change and push forward.

"I believe the New Frontier did not end that day on our Texas frontier," Rawlings said.

The program began with a procession of bagpipers playing and an honor guard. A local singer performed the National Anthem and Bishop Kevin Farrell gave the invocation.

Bells tolled across the city after Rawlings' speech while the crowd stood for a moment of silence. The U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club performed before historian David McCullough spoke and also closed out the ceremony with a hymn.

The rainy weather forced the cancellation of a performance by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and a military flyover.

McCullough reflected on Kennedy's legacy and read from various speeches of Kennedy when he spoke to the crowd.

"He was ambitious to make it a better world and so were we," McCullough said.

A new plaque was unveiled at the top of the grassy knoll of Dealey Plaza during the ceremony. It features the closing remarks of a speech Kennedy was supposed to give at the Dallas Trade Mart after his motorcade through downtown Dallas – a speech he never got to deliver.

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