UPDATED - Across the country on Nov. 22, Americans paused to reflect on the 50-year anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The shots fired in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza that day ended a presidency and shattered an era of idyllic security.
Friday morning, the Arlington National Cemetery hosted wreath-laying ceremony open to the public at Kennedy’s grave site. Events picked up later in Dallas, Texas, as citizens gathered in Dealey Plaza, where the shots that killed Kennedy were fired along the motorcade route he and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy traveled. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the U.S. Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club also performed, and a moment of silence was held at around 1:30 p.m ET.
The JFK Library and Museum in Boston also hosted an event Friday afternoon featuring readings of the former president’s most famous speeches, and a moment of silence at 2:00 p.m ET, marking the moment that news of the president’s death was announced to the country.
“From conservation to education to social justice, President Kennedy advocated for a citizenry that cared for, invested, and engaged in the country they were lucky to call home,” Rep Joe Kennedy said of his great uncle in a statement released Friday. “He believed fiercely that our American values must be earned and nurtured so that they would not fade away. He challenged all of us to achieve a better and bigger future for our country: where man would walk on the moon; where individuals with disabilities could enjoy opportunity, not indifference; where skin color would not disqualify you from democracy or basic human decency; and where hundreds of citizen ambassadors across the globe could sow the seeds of peace.”
Earlier in the week, President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and members of the Kennedy family gathered at the Eternal Flame, laying a wreath at the site where Kennedy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
On Wednesday morning, the two democratic presidents paid homage their predecessor by awarding the Medal of Freedom to 16 deserving Americans whose contributions in the arts, sports, science, and leadership represent the best of the country’s citizenry. Kennedy established the award a half-century ago, but died before he could celebrate the inaugural class. President Lyndon Johnson awarded the Medal of Freedom on December 6, 1963.
On Thursday, President Obama issued a proclamation designating Friday as a Day of Remembrance for President John F. Kennedy and directing flags to fly at half-staff.
“With broad vision and soaring but sober idealism, President John F. Kennedy had called a generation to service and summoned a Nation to greatness,” Obama wrote in a statement issued by the white House on Thursday. “We honor his memory and celebrate his enduring imprint on American history.”