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Former Manhattan DA Morgenthau, VP Cheney Reflect On Learning Of JFK’s Assassination

Morgenthau Was With Bobby Kennedy When Call Came In
President John F. Kennedy with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy ride in a motorcade in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, shortly before his assassination. (credit: OFF/AFP/Getty Images)

President John F. Kennedy with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy ride in a motorcade in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, shortly before his assassination. (credit: OFF/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)The nation paused to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Friday.

Those who remember the events of that day are reflecting on the anniversary.

As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, for former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, lunchtime on Nov. 22, 1963 turned out to be a meal he’ll never forget and a day he’d never want to relive.

Morgenthau was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York at the time, appointed by JFK. he’d gone to Washington for a conference on organized crime.

“Well, I was having lunch at Hickory Hill with Bobby and Ethel Kennedy,” Morgenthau recounted. “Phone rang and somebody said ‘it’s J. Edgar Hoover.'”

Bobby Kennedy quickly took the call from the FBI director, Morgenthau remembered.

“There was a phone on the wall, we were down by the pool and he put his hand on his mouth and said ‘Jack has been shot,'” said the former DA, now 94 years old.

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“I was having difficulty taking it in and his house painter at about the same time came over and said ‘President Kennedy has been shot in Texas.'”

No one wanted to believe the worst but then Bobby Kennedy was back.

“He came in while we were waiting and stuck his head in…and said ‘Jack’s dead,'” Morgenthau said. “The surprise and the shock was incredible.”

“He was an inspiration to so many young people…he was an extraordinary leader.”

WCBS 880’s veteran court reporter Irene Cornell recalled her own memories of that fateful day.

She was working at her first radio job at WMCA in New York when she learned that President Kennedy had been shot.

“It was just shocking. Everyone was stunned and I remember having to pull myself together and pick up a tape recorder and go out in the street and talk to people,” Cornell said.

Cornell said she wound up being the one informing many people that the president had been assassinated.

“People were stunned into silence or openly weeping. It was just a terrible, terrible day,” she said.

Future Vice President Dick Cheney was 22 years old and a student at the University of Wyoming on Nov. 22, 1963.

“I was walking back from class to my apartment and somebody I knew stopped by in their car and they had the car radio on, told me the president had been shot. We then jumped in the car and went back and found a television set,” Cheney told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb. “It was especially poignant for those of us at Wyoming because he had been at the University of Wyoming just a few weeks before.”

Cheney said he remembers seeing JFK riding in that open car at Wyoming.

“We had just seen him on our campus and a short time later, he was killed in Dallas,” Cheney said.

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