DALLAS (CBSNewYork/AP) — Events across the nation and around the world are marking the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, 50 years ago Friday.
A half-century later, the assassination still stirs quiet sadness in the baby boom generation that remembers it as the beginning of a darker, more cynical time. The anniversary ceremonies reflected that solemnity, with moments of silence, speeches by historians and, above all, simple reverence for a time and a leader long gone.
As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, it’s been five decades, but a generation still remembers where they were and just how painful it was.
Bells tolled in Dealey Plaza 50 years after shots rang out there. The gunfire changed the course of a nation. Camelot, as Jackie Kennedy dubbed the era, came to a terribly tragic close, Brennan reported.
“A new era dawned and another waned a half-century ago, when hope and hatred collided right here in Dallas,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said at the largest memorial service, in Dealey Plaza, the scene of the Nov. 22, 1963, shooting.
“We watched the nightmarish reality in our front yard. Our president had been taken from us, taken from his family, taken from the world.”
Rawlings told about 5,000 people gathered under gray skies in near-freezing temperatures that the slaying prompted Dallas to “turn civic heartbreak into hard work” and helped the city to mature.
Kennedy “and our city will forever be linked in tragedy, yes,” he said. “But out of tragedy, an opportunity was granted to us how to face the future when it’s the darkest and uncertain.”
Rawlings unveiled a plaque with remarks Kennedy was supposed to deliver later that day in Dallas. His remarks were followed by a mournful tolling of bells and a moment of silence.
The plaza includes the Texas School Book Depository building, where sniper Lee Harvey Oswald perched on the sixth floor above the president’s motorcade.
A stage for the memorial ceremony, just south of the depository building, was backed with a large banner showing Kennedy’s profile. Video screens showed images of Kennedy with his family.
In a nod to Kennedy’s military service, the U.S. Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club sang at the ceremony, but an Air Force flyover was canceled because of the weather.
President Barack Obama ordered flags be lowered at government buildings to mark the anniversary, calling it a day to honor Kennedy’s memory and “celebrate his enduring imprint on American history.”
In Conn., Gov. Dan Malloy also directed that U.S. and Connecticut flags be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday.
Malloy said that half a century after Kennedy’s death, his “call to action for every citizen to better our great nation and serve our fellow man” continues to inspire Americans.
“We can each do our part to carry on President Kennedy’s legacy,” he said.
As WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported, a commemoration was held in Newark on Friday at the same site where President Kennedy delivered remarks on Oct. 12, 1962.