President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago this week, on November 22, 1963 in Dallas. President Obama will honor his predecessor with a visit to his grave at Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, where they will lay a wreath at the eternal flame along with former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Continue reading for more coverage of the anniversary of Kennedy’s death.
As it happened | “Four shattering days”
A detailed account of those traumatic days in 1963, beginning in Dallas on Nov. 22:
Mrs. Connally cradled her wounded husband in the jump seat. She heard a Secret Service agent instructing the driver of the X-100 to drive to the nearest hospital. And she heard Jacqueline Kennedy behind her, repeating:
“They have killed my husband. I have his brains in my hand.”
The funeral | “A bugler’s broken note spoke for a grieving nation”
With the whole nation and much of the world listening, [Sgt. Keith] Clark fumbled the sixth note of taps, which falls on the word “sun” in the lyrics, “Day is done. Gone the sun . . .”
Some said it sounded almost like a sob, befitting the moment.
The first lady | “A master at shaping public appearance”
Her husband’s death permanently surrounded Jacqueline Kennedy in an impenetrable aura of myth.
Tribute | “Looking for J.F.K. in the mirror”
Richard Cohen remembers admiring the president:
It was his dash, his elan, his humor, his sophistication, his effortless charm, his erudition and, finally, his fearlessness in the face of brilliance that mattered so much. Kennedy did not need to be the smartest man in the room. That’s how smart he was. . . .
On paper, in the ledgers of bills enacted and great stuff accomplished, Kennedy did not get that much done. Major initiatives were begun, but the greatest of them were completed by Lyndon Johnson, a man who never earned the inevitable Kennedy accolade of “grace.” Kennedy suffers also from the concussive and never-ending revelations about extramarital affairs, some of them so breathtakingly stupid, no matter what their morality, that you have to wonder what he was thinking. He was, in this regard, his father’s son. . . .
So much did not get done. But there remains — there will always remain — the undocumented journey of those who set out for Washington (or for some God-forsaken Peace Corps hut) because John Fitzgerald Kennedy beckoned. He was too much tinsely image, shimmering like a desert mirage and just as concrete — unless you saw him.
A style of leadership | “Lead like John F. Kennedy”
Kennedy knew how to challenge the advice and assumptions of so-called experts. During the Berlin crisis, two defense analysts made the case for waging “rational nuclear war” against the Soviets and told Kennedy he could prevail with only limited casualties. Kennedy remained wary and asked probing questions: How could he maintain control once the war began? Wasn’t there a danger of using more bombs than were necessary? How could he keep a limited war from turning into a holocaust? When none of Kennedy’s advisers could provide him with satisfactory answers, the president shelved the proposal. Leaders know when to say no.
For more on Kennedy, visit this page.