[EDITOR’S NOTE: To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, we’re re-running this story we first published on Nov. 22, 2008:]
by Janet Grella
It is often agreed that most people over five years old and living in the United States on November 22, 1963 will remember exactly where they were when they found out that President John F. Kennedy was killed by an assassin’s gunshot in Dallas, Texas.
Today is the 50th Anniversary of this event that robbed us of our first Catholic president. The BTB thought we’d look back at this common memory through the eyes and memory of a local man who was there.
I met Tim Leahy at the Des Moines Legacy Foundation’s 9th Annual Bayside Brunch at Anthony’s Homeport recently. He was the Auctioneer, I was a volunteer. Through the course of conversation, I learned that he not only had lived in Dallas with his family, he was at the actual parade.
His Dad Richard took Tim (6th grade), sisters Cathy (8th grade) and little sister June (5th grade) out of class to see the first Roman Catholic President. Mom Patricia was home with his two younger brothers. From their vantage point they saw the presidential plane landing and Love Field. The Leahy family were very excited as the Presidential Lincoln Convertible drew past their spot real slow. Dad was taking home movies on an 8mm camera. Once they passed, Mr. Leahy got the kids in the car and drove them to a nearby restaurant for lunch.
In what Tim said was “no longer than 10-15 minutes, we walked into the restaurant; everyone was gathered around a radio, weeping.” A waitress told them the President had been shot. Dad rushed over to St. Monica’s Catholic Church to pray for the president, his family and the country.”
Although they had planned to go back to school at St. Monica’s, they were taken home to start what would be a three-day television broadcast.
Like all viewers on Saturday morning, Tim and his family watched Jack Ruby kill Lee Harvey Oswald in the garage of Dallas Police Headquarters surrounded by policeman and detectives. Let the conspiracy theories begin!
Walter Cronkite of CBS News broke into the CBS soap opera “As the World Turns” to tell the nation President Kennedy had been shot about 12:35pm CST and rushed to the hospital – here’s a video clip of that very moment:
At 1:38pm CST Mr. Cronkite was back on screen to tell American that our 35th President of the United States had died, about 38 minutes ago at 1:00pm: