President John F. Kennedy Assassinated
On Friday, November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot as he rode in a motorcade through the streets of Dallas, Texas; he died shortly thereafter. The thirty-fifth president was forty-six years old and had served less than three years in office. During that short time, Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, became immensely popular both at home and abroad.
For the next several days, stunned Americans gathered around their television sets as regular programming yielded to nonstop coverage of the assassination and funeral. From their living rooms they watched Mrs. Kennedy, still wearing her blood-stained suit, return to Washington with the president’s body.
Many witnessed the November 24 murder of Kennedy’s accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Viewers also followed the saddled, but riderless, horse in the funeral cortege from the White House to the U.S. Capitol, where Kennedy lay in state. They saw the president’s young son step forward on his third birthday to salute as his father’s coffin was borne to Arlington National Cemetery.
Television played a significant role in Americans’ collective mourning. For the first time, the majority of citizens witnessed the ceremonies surrounding the death of a beloved leader, creating a shared experience of the tragedy. Even now, television programming maintains public memory of the assassination by transmitting vivid images from those difficult days to successive generations.