23 Nov 2013

US remembers JFK, 50 years on

6:24 pm on 23 November 2013

An emotional ceremony to mark the assasination of the United States President John F Kennedy has taken place in Dallas, coinciding with the time he was shot 50 years ago.

The mayor of Dallas, who led the event, said the day in which Mr Kennedy was killed was one when hope and hatred collided.

Bells rang out and a moment of silence was observed at the exact time the President was shot as his motorcade passed through.

Members of the Kennedy family layed a wreath on his grave in Arlington national cemetery.

The city, which has long struggled with the legacy of the murder, hosted a series of official events on Friday.

Flags were lowered and a silence observed across the country for the fourth president in American history to be killed while in office.

At 12.30pm on Friday bells rang out through Dallas. Crowds thronged a ceremony in the city's Dealey Plaza, where Kennedy was shot, and video feeds of the events were piped to screens set up throughout the downtown area, the BBC reports.

Mr Kennedy's family members laid a wreath on his grave at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington DC on Friday.

On 22 November 1963, Mr Kennedy and his wife travelled to Dallas for early campaigning ahead of the following year's election.

Crowds of supporters had lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the president and his wife Jackie. As the presidential motorcade entered Dealey Plaza around 12.30pm, Kennedy's convertible passed by the Texas School Book Depository building.

Gunshots rang out across the plaza. Bullets struck the president in the head and neck, and 30 minutes later the 46-year-old was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Speakers on Friday paid tribute to JFK on a stage across from the Texas School Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the lethal shots just across from the grassy knoll, beloved of conspiracy theorists who think there was a second gunman.

Mr Kennedy has been ranked among the nation's most revered presidents, though he served less than three years.

He is commemorated for his youthful vigour, his leadership through the Cuban missile crisis, and his challenge to America to put a man on the Moon.

However, he is also remembered for ordering one of the most disastrous episodes of the Cold War, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of communist Cuba by a CIA-trained paramilitary force of Cuban exiles.

Political dynasty

Mr Kennedy, a Democrat, was part of one of the most prominent US political dynasties of the 20th Century.

His father, Joseph, was a wealthy businessman who served in senior positions in the government of President Franklin Roosevelt, including as ambassador to Britain.

Two of his brothers later served as US senators and ran for president. One of them, Robert, was assassinated in 1968. Edward Kennedy, who died in 2009, was a champion of progressive causes including universal healthcare.

John F Kennedy's daughter Caroline is now the US ambassador to Japan. His son, John F Kennedy Junior, died in a plane crash along with his wife in 1999, while Jackie Kennedy Onassis died in 1994.