Prime Minister assassinated. President assassinated. How would you react to either of these headlines? Canadians, Americans, and people all over the world asked themselves that question the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.
This week marked the 50th Anniversary of American President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, which many people across the world paid tribute. Newspaper dailies in Great Britain, Canada, Israel, and Germany, among many others, reflected on the historical significance of a former American President.
The front page headline of the Winnipeg Free Press on November 22, 1963 stated, “Kennedy Shot. Rushed to Hospital. No word on his condition.” According to The Winnipeg Free Press, Kennedy had been downtown in Dallas when the bullet hit him. Jackie Kennedy, his wife, had cried out in horror. Conspiracy theories emerged shortly after the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, JFK’s alleged assassin, who was then later killed by Jack Ruby two days after.
“A terrifying experience”
JFK Inspired A New Generation
In the 1960s, JFK was a beacon of hope for many young Americans. During his inauguration speech on January 20, 1961, JFK said, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Here, he demanded that Americans reflect on their contribution to the nation. It was the duty of every American citizen to protect the nation from itself, whereby citizens have an obligation to the security of its institutions and processes.
JFK was Irish Catholic, the only Catholic President to have served in the United States. He captured the spark for a new generation, who could effectively communicate to Americans on televisions sets during an era of turbulence.
A Turbulent Period
The birth of Civil Rights movement, the Cold War, the Space Race, and Nuclear War characterized the 1960s. JFK’s domestic policy aimed at “federal funding for education, medical care for the elderly, and economic aid to rural regions, and government intervention to heal the recession. Most importantly, he promised an end to racial discrimination.” Foreign policy dealt with the Cuban missile crisis, Latin America, and South East Asia. With radical domestic and foreign policies in the making, he was the figurehead for modernism in the United States. His death not only affected the United States, but the entire world.
Time Stood Still
JFK’s assassination was a moment in time when people could remember what they were doing for years after. “Grief and disbelief numbed the nation as most Americans spent the next four days in front of their television sets.” The world stopped in much of the same capacity on September 11, 2001, when two planes slammed into the World Trade Center in New York.
Facebook and Social Media
4.7 million people on Facebook have expressed interest in John F. Kennedy. In Canada, 62,000 people have liked JFK. In the United States, 1.8 million people have an interest in JFK, 1.16million are between the ages of 13 to 50. These statistics show that JFK still resonates through the minds of many people. They have not forgotten.
Can you remember any moments in time that changed the world forever? Please leave your comments in the section below.
 Boyer, An Enduring Vision: A History of the American People. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002, 605-610.
 Boyer, 610.