Home > Cande = Conjecture & Exaggeration, Fande = Fact & Evidence > November 22, 1963 – Dallas, Texas

November 22, 1963 – Dallas, Texas

We, the People of the United States of America, elected President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago.

File:Kennedys arrive at Dallas 11-22-63.JPG

picture source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kennedys_arrive_at_Dallas_11-22-63.JPG

File:John F. Kennedy motorcade, Dallas crop.png

picture source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_F._Kennedy_motorcade,_Dallas_crop.png

BE3_HIpicture source: http://www.jfklancer.com/photos/autopsy_slideshow/index.html

File:Jfkautopsy.jpg

picture source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jfkautopsy.jpg

File:Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office, November 1963.jpg

picture source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lyndon_B._Johnson_taking_the_oath_of_office,_November_1963.jpg

source: http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=kennedyjf

EXCERPTS in italics from the Museum of Broadcast Communications:

On Sunday an unprecedented televised event blasts the story of the assassination of John F. Kennedy out of the realm of tragedy and into surrealism: the on-camera murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, telecast live. At 12:21 P.M. EST, as preparations are being made for the solemn procession of the caisson bearing the president’s casket from the White House to the Capital rotunda, the accused assassin is about to be transferred from the Dallas City Jail to the Dallas County Jail. Alone of the three networks, NBC elects to switch over from coverage of the preparations in Washington, D.C. to the transfer of the prisoner in Dallas. CBS was also receiving a live feed from Dallas in its New York control room, but opted to stay with the D.C. feed. Thus only NBC carried the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald live. “He’s been shot! He’s been shot! Lee Oswald has been shot!” shouted NBC correspondent Tom Petit. “There is absolute panic. Pandemonium has broken out.” Within minutes, CBS broadcasts its own live feed from Dallas. For the rest of the day all three networks deploy their Ampex videotape technology to rewind and replay the scene again and again. Almost every American in proximity to a television watches transfixed.

Amid the scuffle after the shooting, a journalist’s voice can be heard gasping, “This is unbelievable.” The next day New York Times television critic Jack Gould called the on-air shooting of Oswald “easily the most extraordinary moments Of TV that a set-owner ever watched.” In truth, as much as the Kennedy assassination itself, the on-air murder of the president’s alleged assassin creates an almost vertiginous imbalance in televiewers, a sense of American life out of control and let loose from traditional moorings.

Later that same afternoon, in stark counterpoint to the ongoing chaos in Dallas, thousands of mourners line up to file pass the president’s flag draped coffin in the Capitol rotunda. Senator Mike Mansfield intones a mournful, poetic eulogy. With daughter Caroline by the hand, the president’s widow kneels by the casket and kisses the flag, the little girl looking up to her mother for guidance. “For many,” recalled broadcasting historian Erik Barnouw, “it was the most unbearable moment in four days, the most unforgettable.”

Throughout Sunday, tributes to the late president and scenes of mourners at the Capitol intertwine with news of the assassin and the assassin of the assassin, a Dallas strip club owner named Jack Ruby. Remote coverage of church services around the nation and solemn musical interludes is intercut and dissolved into the endless stream of mourners in Washington. That evening, 8:00 P.M. EST ABC telecasts A Tribute to John F. Kennedy from the Arts, a somber variety show featuring classical music and dramatic readings from the bible and Shakespeare. Host Fredric March recites the Gettysburg Address, Charlton Heston reads from thePsalms and Robert Frost, and Marian Anderson sings Negro spirituals.

The next day–Monday, 25 November a National Day of Mourning–bears witness to an extraordinary political-religious spectacle: the ceremonial transfer of the president’s coffin by caisson from the Capitol rotunda to St. Matthews Cathedral, where the funereal mass is to be celebrated by Richard Cardinal Cushing, and on across the Potomac River for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Television coverage begins at 7:00 A.M. EST with scenes from DC, where all evening mourners have been filing past the coffin in the Capitol rotunda. At 10:38 A.M. the coffin is placed on the caisson for the procession to St. Matthews Cathedral. Television imprints a series of memorable snapshot images. During the mass, as the phrase from the president’s first inaugural address comes through loudspeakers (“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country)” cameras dissolve to a shot of the flag draped coffin. No sooner do commentators remind viewers that this day marks the president’s son’s third birthday, then outside the church, as the caisson passes by, little John F. Kennedy, Jr. salutes. The spirited stallion Black Jack, a riderless steed with boots pointed backwards in the stirrup, kicks up defiantly. Awed by the regal solemnity, network commentators are quiet and restrained, allowing the medium of the moving image to record a series of eloquent sounds: drums and bagpipes, hoofbeats, the cadenced steps of the honor guard, and, at the burial at Arlington, the final sour note of a bugle playing “Taps.”

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