Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, thousands marked the day with a solemn ceremony in Dealey Plaza.
Friday's event in the place where JFK's motorcade passed through when shots rang out featured remarks by Mayor Mike Rawlings, the tolling of church bells and readings from the president's speeches by author David McCullough. A moment of silence was observed at 12:28 p.m. marking the moment of the shooting on November 22, 1963.
About 5,000 tickets were issued for the ceremony in Dealey Plaza, where a new plaque was unveiled featuring the last paragraph of a speech President Kennedy was to have given during a luncheon at the Dallas Trade Mart. The speech was to have ended with Kennedy noting that Americans are "watchmen on the walls of world freedom" and therefore must strive to be worthy of that power and try to achieve peace. Ruth Altshuler chairs the committee that organized the city's event marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination. She says the marker is "very dignified and very tasteful and very meaningful."
In Boston, the JFK Library and Museum opened a small exhibit of never-before-displayed items from Kennedy's state funeral. In Washington, President Obama was to meet privately at the White House with leaders and volunteers from the Peace Corps program, which Kennedy created.
Memorial services in Omaha were held at Memorial Park and Dundee Presbyterian Church. Fr. George Sullivan remembers meeting Kennedy in 1957.
“Well, it was just a few minutes at the airport,” he said. “My dad was from Boston and they talked about Boston and it was very clear he was unbelievably important an incredible person.”
Several people spoke Friday about how meeting or just listening to Kennedy changed their lives.
Governor Dave Heineman reminded Nebraskans to fly flags at half-staff in remembrance of JFK.
The anniversary was also noted overseas. A half-dozen Irish soldiers formed a guard of honor outside the U.S. Embassy in Dublin as the American flag was lowered to half-staff. Among those who gathered were more than a dozen retired Irish army officers who, as teenage cadets, had formed an honor guard at Kennedy's graveside when he was buried. One of them recalled seeing the dignitaries from around the world who attended the funeral and "the sadness everywhere, people crying in the streets."
In Japan, admirers of JFK took photos with his portrait, folded paper cranes and watched a video of his inaugural ceremony. Kennedy's daughter Caroline recently arrived to an enthusiastic welcome in Tokyo where she is now the U.S. ambassador to Japan.