The assassination of President John F. Kennedy - A historically-accurate reenactment

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy - A historically-accurate reenactment

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. To remember this day, Boston.com presents a historically-accurate live blog featuring a moment-by-moment timeline of that tragic November day in 1963 - as we would have reported it today.

A team of digital producers spent the last several weeks gathering photos, videos, and multimedia from a number of sources - including the JFK Library in Boston - so that we could offer you an insightful experience into the assassination, and how it might be covered using today's technology.

We offer this timeline as a way to remember history and a respected president who called Massachusetts his home.   - Ronald Agrella,  Boston.com editor
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:41:35 PM
    Many women are crying. But most people are standing motionless, shocked by the news.
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:41:42 PM
    One man kept saying, "Who would do this? Who would try to kill the president?" There is no official confirmation that President Kennedy has died.
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:41:50 PM
    The Associated Press has wired the following: "President Kennedy was shot today just as his motorcade left downtown Dallas. Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and grabbed Mr. Kennedy. She cried "Oh, no!' The motorcade sped on."
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 6:42:10 PM

    Scenes of the president's motorcade shooting.

  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:43:09 PM
    News that President Kennedy has been shot has paralyzed telephone communication in the Boston area. Switchboards at newspapers and radio and TV stations are clogged.
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:43:39 PM
    We're hearing that Vice President Johnson is at an undisclosed location in the hospital.
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:44:49 PM
    We’re receiving reports that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover has called President Kennedy’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, but this has not been confirmed. The attorney general at home at Hickory Hill in McLean, Virginia.
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:45:52 PM
    US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, presiding over the US Senate in the absence of Vice President Lyndon Johnson, has reportedly received the news that his brother has been shot in Dallas.
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:46:15 PM
    Police are broadcasting the first description of a suspect in connection with the president’s motorcade shooting:
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:46:52 PM
    “The suspect from Elm (Street) and Houston (Street) is reported to be an unknown white male, about thirty, slender build, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 165 pounds, armed with what is thought to be a 30-30 rifle.”
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:47:35 PM
    We are hearing that Sen. Ted Kennedy's office was closed and he was whisked away to an
    undisclosed location where he could get instant information on the president’s condition.
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:49:19 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers: It was surreal. I was in the TV department at Sears in Lafayette, Indiana. Imagine seeing not one, but 30 or 40 or more television sets suddenly showing "BULLETIN" on the screen, and announcers telling us what had just happened! A crowd gathered in the department and everyone stood there in shock. We headed home, listening to the radio reports on the way, and for the next several days watched all the TV coverage, including the shooting of Oswald.

    Each day I'd run down to the Rexall and pick up all the newspapers, which I still have.
    I can still see the tears rolling down my mother's cheeks as we watched. Unforgettable, life-changing event, the beginning of our loss of innocence.

    -- Submitted by Dennis Keller, LaFayette, Indiana
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:50:01 PM
    “I ask every citizen in the city to join with me in praying for the recovery of President Kennedy and Gov. John Connally,” Boston Mayor John F. Collins said in an emotional proclamation.
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:51:21 PM
    Small groups of students gathered in Harvard Yard a few minutes after the news flash from Dallas was heard. They crowded about transistor radios, listening to the reports.
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:56:04 PM
    Throngs of men and women have gathered outside The Boston Globe’s downtown office on Washington Street to verify the news.
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:56:15 PM
    More than 300 people have jammed the sidewalks.
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:56:25 PM
    Women are weeping and men are standing in near shock. One elderly woman fingered her rosary beads and mumbled, “God help him … God help the president.”
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 6:59:38 PM
    We’re being told that two Catholic priests have entered Parkland Hospital.
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 7:02:35 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers: I was in the grammar school library; I was in the 8th grade doing a project on Congress. The librarian heard something and put the TV on in the library. It was just about the time school was being dismissed. We were not actually sure if the President was dead. It was just before 2.

    When I got home about an hour later, I found out for sure. I cried. My mother was at home with my other siblings (younger than me.) She was crying, too. The other siblings were just too young to understand what was going on at that time. A day or two later, they began to understand. Came home from Mass on Sunday morning, was eating glazed donuts watching Oswald being moved in Dallas. I saw it live on TV as I ate my donuts. It is amazing how it freezes the memory in our brains.

    -- Submitted by Anthony Polito, Raynham
  • Zeninjor Enwemeka, News... 11/22/2013 7:07:42 PM
    The New York Stock Exchange has been closed by order of the board of governors following news of JFK’s shooting.
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 9:36:14 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers; Nov 22, 1963 was my 14th birthday. I'd finally received my working papers from a school department office located on Beacon Hill.

    Unlike most others, I had not heard anything about the President's assassination until I'd left my junior high school, the Grover Cleveland in Dorchester's Fields Corner section. I had taken the train to Washington Street station downtown where I'd exited to walk along Washington Street to the Old State House where the David P. Ehrlich Pipe and Tobacco shop was located. I was to be a stockboy there.

    I came upon a crowd gathered outside the fairly new Globe store at the corner of Washington and School streets. I remember making my way to read a paper sign in one window which I think stated that the president had been shot - I'm not sure that it mentioned President Kennedy by name - and when I came upon the second storefront window another sign read that President Kennedy was dead.

    My new boss sent me home early on that day, my first work day. Later that night, my father took me to a restaurant in Quincy, at the very end of Wollaston Boulevard, where we sat in silence along with dozens of other patrons eating their meals as we watched the continuing news unfold on a small black-and-white television on a bar at the far end of the room.

    I still remember the eery silence as we sat there and, other than the commentator's voice, the only sounds I heard were those of knives and forks upon dinner plates. In an odd sort of manner, for many years when I'd fill out a form or my birthdate would come up in conversation I'd usually hear "That's the day President Kennedy was assassinated." Perhaps because it's 50 years later, or for other reasons, I rarely hear the same comment. I'm beginning to believe 'you had to be there' for the event to continue to hold any relevance in these modern times.

    - Submitted by Mike Cangemi, Boston
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 9:39:14 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers: I was in a social studies class at Meadowbrook Junior High School where I was in 7th grade.

    Suddenly the PA came on, and one of the first things I heard was, "The President is still alive.

    Involuntarily, I thought "of course", and then, as I realized that the PA had not interrupted our class to report the obvious, we heard that three shots were fired at JFK and that he had been hit.

    Some of my classmates were sure that he'd be okay, since he was so well-protected; but then the news came that JFK was dead. Most of the girls and women, and not a few boys and men, were crying; my teacher sat with his face in his right hand, while the teacher in the next room sat as if in a daze.

    As for me, I wandered the halls, trying to convince myself that everything was a horrible dream. Then I went home since the buses had arrived and there was no reason to keep us in school. Once home, I sat glued to the TV until my parents arrived home.

    -- Submitted by Jon Melick, Newton
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 9:41:46 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers: I was a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis. I came from a liberal family in New Jersey: both my mother and father adored JFK. I was in my dorm room. 

    Two juniors on my floor who grew up in the deep South were running down the halls screaming, "Good news. The President has been shot. Good news. The President is dead!" They were laughing and cheering.

    It was unimaginable to me. I started to cry and ran out of my room. I called my parents (there was one phone per hall) who told me to come home, as it was only a few days before Thanksgiving, and that's what I did.

    I never spoke to the two juniors on my floor again.

    -- Submitted by Carol Kort, St. Louis, Missouri
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 9:45:14 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers: It was my 17th birthday and I was home in bed with the flu. My mother had wheeled a TV into my room to try to make me feel better.

    A news flash came on stating the president was shot; it was on the screen so briefly that I thought it was a crossing of wires from another station that was going to air a movie of some sort.

    I remember thinking that it was a horrible thing to do on TV. I called my mother into the room to tell her what I had seen on TV and complained what a horrible thing was just said. =

    Obviously, it must have been repeated where we knew this was not a joke and honestly, the memory that stands out for me that day is my mother opening the window and yelling to the neighbors, "the President's been shot" over and over and she was sobbing. =

    As if in a dream, I watched my mother at the window and it seemed as if part of her went out of the window, too; I was watching a part of her dying also.

    I couldn't put it into words what I was witnessing, but I knew somehow that my mother was being profoundly changed before my eyes and, hence, my world too. It was a profound sense of loss.

    -- Submitted by Rosemary Resnick, South Boston
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 9:46:08 PM
    We have more reaction from local officials on the death of President Kennedy.
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 9:46:21 PM
    This statement from US Rep. Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neil Jr.: "The loss of President Kennedy is a tremendous shock. He was a personal friend, as I took his place in Congress ... The nation and the entire world have lost a true friend, benefactor, and public servant."
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 9:47:48 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers: I was in the 3rd grade at the Ripley School in Concord. It was a Friday afternoon, so we were doing what we usually did in class on that day - arts and crafts projects.

    One of my classmates had been sent to the principal's office and when he returned, he told us he had heard on the radio there that the President had been shot. None of us beleived him, and our teacher never gave a hint that she knew.

    We were all dismissed, I recall, at the regular time (3 p.m.), and I walked home with no suspicion that anything had happened other than what my classmate had told us earlier.

    When I arrived home, my mother met me at the door in tears. I was only 8 years old and it was the first time I had ever seen her cry. I thought something awful had happened to someone in my family, until she told me the news about President Kennedy.

    -- Submitted by David Wright, Concord
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 9:54:14 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers: I was in my 4th grade classroom at Holy Childhood School (420 Pond St., Jamaica Plain). [Holy Childhood was an elementary school associated with the Nazareth Childcare Center].

    In the afternoons, we would come in from recess and concentrate hard on our lessons. Charlie, the janitor, would sweep the corridor and on a good day, he'd waltz with his mop outside the classroom door, just out of range of Sister's gaze. We'd giggle and he'd disappear before Sister could ever see him. That is what we hoped for to wake us up from our post-recess intellectual stupor.

    On Nov. 22, 1963, we didn't hear Charlie in the hall. Instead, I heard the thup-thup of a nun's habit with the ching-ing of her rosary. (To those who did not go to Catholic school, that is the sound of a nun hurrying - no footsteps, just fabric and beads).

    A nun came to the door, called our teacher into the hall, and they whispered together a minute. Sister stayed in the hall. It was quiet a long time.

    Sister Francis de Sales came back into our classroom and told us that something had happened to the President. I'm not sure I quite grasped it. The President had been shot, which had never happened before (as far as we knew).

    This struck us hard on a lot of counts: we were Catholic, we loved our President, he was one of us, and it was wrong. (If a Catholic kid is taught anything in her catechism, it is a clear list of what is right and what is wrong). One of Us:

    The year before, the President had sent us his birthday cake. It was massive and had to be wheeled into the gym on a dolley. The entire school sang him happy birthday (though he wasn't present) and each kid got a piece of cake. Also, our gym teacher Mr. Eiler had come to us by way of the President - Mr. Eiler had been a trainer/coach at Hyannisport. (By the way, this was a super political school/neighborhood: Costello, McDonough, Hennigan, Ianella, ADA Paul McLaughlin's father made a gubernatorial bid, etc).

    So we knew our President, we knew what he stood for, and we helped elect him. (Little kids used to make literature drops or hand out buttons back in the day).

    Later: Strange things happened. Kids went home after school and no one went out to play. We stayed inside for the first time ever on an otherwise decent afternoon.

    The news was on during the day for a few days. So strange! And all the country was upset. So the funeral happened. And we watched. And still we stayed inside. I can't imagine what it was like for our parents.

    Families in our neighborhood had lots of kids (we used to feel sorry for the small families who only had 3 or 4 kids). And parents groped for some decorum, or just mourned, and so they kept us quiet. 'Later' seems to have lasted for a long time.

    Things never went back to normal. I think that's when I had a taste of adulthood; when I learned that great occasions are a dividing point. When you cross that bad patch, there's no going back. And staying put (or trying to) isn't possible.

    -- Submitted by Kara Le Treize, Jamaica Plain
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 9:58:00 PM
    The Boston Globe is printing a special evening edition to cover the assassination of President Kennedy. The lead headline reads: "PRESIDENT SLAIN"
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 10:01:39 PM
    Here are some excerpts from the special edition of the Globe: Johnson 'Is Fine,' Wife Says: Mrs. Lyndon Johnson said after a visit to the emergency operating room today that the Vice President ‘is fine.’
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 10:02:28 PM
    Senator Edward M. Kennedy and his sister, Eunice Shriver, flew red-eyed and somber from Andrews Air Force Base to Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts to join their family.
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 10:02:45 PM
    At Hyannis Port, the senator was to deliver the news of the President Kennedy's death to their father, Joseph Kennedy, 75, was ailing and disabled from a stroke.
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 10:02:49 PM

    Mrs. Eunice Shriver and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, sister and brother of the slain President, have arrived at Andrews Air Force Base for a flight to Hyannis Port to be with their father, Joseph P. Kennedy.

    (Credit: William Allen/Associated Press)

  • Teresa Hanafin 11/22/2013 10:03:54 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers: I was 8 years old and in the 3rd grade at Immaculate Conception School in Jamaica, Queens, NY, when near the end of music class (about 3 p.m.), a nun burst into the room and ordered all of us onto our knees. She was crying and said the President had been shot, we must pray for him. We were released from school shortly afterwards.

    As I walked home to 179th Street, I realized all the adults on the street were crying. This frightened me! I ran the rest of the way home, across Hillside Avenue, but my mom wasn't there when I got home. (In those days, moms were always home after school.)

    She was pregnant with her 7th child, John Kevin, who would be born several months later. I found her next door with our Jewish neighbor, Shirley. They were holding each other, crying, eyes on an old black-and-white TV. The President was dead.

    I may have just been a kid from Queens, but my dad was an Irish Catholic from Boston, and I felt a great attachment to the dead President.

    The next few days were gray and cold. There were no cartoons on that old TV that weekend, just sad music and pictures of even sadder people. I remember being confused at the little boy saluting, and the black hat with a veil that hung over the face of the President's wife. Why was the horse walking alone in a parade?

    To this day, 50 years later, my prevailing memories are of confusion, the world in shades of gray, and bone-chilling cold.

    -- Submitted by Colleen Little, Queens, NY
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 10:03:57 PM
    More from the evening edition of the Globe: Stock Market Falls, Closes -- Heavy selling came into the market after announcement of the tragedy in Dallas.
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 10:05:36 PM
    From the Globe: News Stops City, Nation —Workers Weep Openly President Kennedy has been shot!

    These were the words which stopped a city, a state, and the nation.
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 10:05:51 PM
    More from the Globe:

    News that the President had been shot virtually paralysed all telephone communication in the Boston area.
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 10:06:20 PM
    Thousands of workers — many openly weeping — milled in confusion through office corridors.

    In many offices, small radio sets were put into operations and clusters of people jammed together.
  • Teresa Hanafin 11/22/2013 10:09:19 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers: I was 12 years old, in rural upstate NY. Our last class let out at 2:15, and rumors about the president were flying as we walked to the school buses. My bus driver had the radio on, and as I went by him he said something about the president probably having been only scratched, but that didn't calm us down.

    When I got to my stop, I ran home the several blocks to my house and found my mother taking down a load of clothes that had been hanging in the back yard to dry. I told her that there were rumors that the president had been shot, and we went in together to turn on the TV, and learned about it from Walter Cronkite.

    My main memory of the next few days is watching television, on and on, eating meals in the living room, and being buffeted again and again with horrible news. The blood on Jackie's clothes was horrifying. I saw Oswald killed by Ruby live, as it happened.

    We sat like zombies trying to deal with it, hour after hour, day after day, yet suspended in time. I'd never seen news anchors show private strong emotions on air, but they kept breaking down, which would set all of us off again.

    In a way I wish my parents had kept the TV off, as it definitely made everything more upsetting, but on the other hand it was an experience that bonded us all together, the whole country and beyond.

    -- Submitted by Anne Hunter, Ravena, NY
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 10:10:33 PM
    In a proclamation, Gov. Peabody urges education officials to cancel classes on Monday in tribute to President Kennedy.
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 10:10:48 PM
    The governor also orders that flags be flown at half-staff on all public buildings for the next 30 days.
  • Teresa Hanafin 11/22/2013 10:11:46 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers: I was in 6th grade and it was at the end of the day when there was a knock at the door. My older brother and a friend said something to the nun and she clutched her chest and inhaled quickly as if being punched by an invisible giant.

    When her color returned she said, "Class, please stand and say a prayer for the President. He has just been assassinated."

    I remember everything seemed in black and white - not just on television, but all around. Everyone was crying and three words were added to my vocabulary: catafalque, caisson, and rotunda.

    -- Submitted by Joan Quigley, Malden
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 10:13:13 PM
    More reaction from local officials: Julius A. Stratton, the president of MIT, has made the following statement: "This cruel and irrational act has taken from us a truly great President at the height of his power."
  • Teresa Hanafin 11/22/2013 10:14:08 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers: Like so many others my age (61 now), I was in 6th grade at school when we were dismissed early. We were not told why, just all sent home. Once home, my mother told us what happened, and thus began days of mourning with the family while watching TV.

    My most vivid memory: I kept holding my 3-month-old brother over the next several days and made sure I didn't cry when I held him. I don't know why I thought so, but I was sure that it would be bad for him to be held by sad, crying people.

    And through all this pain, I remember also being grateful to HAVE my little brother, because the Kennedy's baby Patrick had been born the day after my brother was born and died within a couple of days.

    The birth of my brother, the death of the Kennedy baby, and then the assassination of the President was my first realization of how precious, fleeting, and fickle life could be.

    -- Submitted by Ellis O'Donnell, Mendon
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 10:15:10 PM
    Governor Peabody is at memorial services at St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston.
  • Teresa Hanafin 11/22/2013 10:15:22 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers: I had not been born yet in 1963, but my late mother was a junior at Fitton High School in East Boston and told me this story many times. I would like to tell her story on her behalf.

    She got on a train home from school and noticed everyone on the train shaken and many in tears. She asked why everyone was so upset and a man told her the President had been shot and killed in Dallas.

    She told me she sat there along with her classmates in stunned silence, as most of the girls were Irish-Americans who greatly admired JFK. They were also very concerned for Jackie as she was a role model to many teen girls of that era.

    By the time she got off the train at Orient Heights, the whole neighborhood was shutting down. Business owners were closing up shops, bars, and restaurants. Everyone she passed was quiet; walking with a sad bewilderment in their eyes.

    - Submitted by Joseph DiBarri, Boston
  • David Stewart, Boston.com... 11/22/2013 10:15:27 PM

    Governor Endicott Peabody (center), his wife Barbara, and his father, the Right Reverend Malcom Peabody, take part in services at St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston.

    (Credit: Dick Fallon/Globe Staff)

  • Teresa Hanafin 11/22/2013 10:17:11 PM
    Editor's note:

    A reader remembers: I recall watching the news with Walter Cronkite. I remember being sent home from Miss Hillsgrove's 1st grade at Pierce Street School in Greenfield. I lived right on the other side of the school fence of the back playground.

    I really do not recollect the assassination per se, but I do remember the day of the funeral procession. We were out on our street (a very quiet non-through street called Holly Avenue) and my mother calling us to come into the house. There was no questioning my mother most of the time and, by the tone of her voice, today was not the day to whine about playing outside for a little longer.

    I remember being required (remember I was just 6 years old) to be quiet and watch the black-and-white DuPont brand TV during the procession and ceremony. I will always remember the horse-drawn casket and the boot being backwards (Dad pointed it out to me and explained why). I also have vivid memories of the horse pulling at the reigns as if attempting to get away.

    My mom was crying and dad was beside himself. I recall the drum cadence and the lined streets. As a 6-year-old, I certainly did not grasp the import of the events unfolding, but knew it was important and very sad. Finally, I recall seeing Caroline Kennedy on the TV and thinking that that little girl was my age.

    -- Submitted by Tom Guerino, Vernon, VT
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