Story Summary

50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination

Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

That city is marking the anniversary for the first time actually with a ceremony in Dealey Plaza at 11:30 a.m.

That’s the exact time Kennedy’s motorcade passed through packed downtown streets back in 1963.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 8 updates

Chicagoans tell WGN News what they were doing when President John F. Kennedy was killed.

A group of friends was having lunch at the Pump Room in Chicago when JFK was shot. Two of them returned to the famed restaurant to mark the 50th anniversary of the president’s assassination.

HalfStaffMayor Emanuel lead a remembrance of the late President John F. Kennedy at the Harold Washington Library on Friday. It was one of many events across the city.

The Mayor was just four years-old when Kennedy was assassinated, and honored him for inspiring others to join public service.

“That flame of public service that President Kennedy lit half a century ago burns as bright as ever today,” Emanuel told 350 middle school students packed into the Pritzker Auditorium.

There was also a jazz concert featuring Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and the Preservation Jazz Hall Band.

The bands played at the first, White House jazz concert in 1962.

Meantime, Governor Quinn ordered all flags to fly at half-staff, and urged people to take part in a moment of silence at 1pm.

The City Council also called on churches to ring their bells.

WGN News Writer C. Hayes published this story.

At just after noon Friday, Dealey Plaza will go quiet as the crowd pauses for a moment of silence.

It was at 12:30 p.m. Dallas time, 50 years ago when the day was scarred by the gunshots in the plaza that ended the life of one of America’s most beloved presidents — John F. Kennedy.

For Dallas, it will be a delicate balancing act of honoring Kennedy’s memory without sensationalizing his murder.

Dallas has spent decades trying to shake off the reputation of “The city that killed Kennedy,” which is not easy, as that dark day of history is rehashed daily by tour operators.

The President John F. Kennedy Commemorative Foundation will host a program that will reflect upon the life of the 35th president. Thousands of tickets were distributed for the event, and the city will also show the ceremony on three giant screens in the city.

Just before the moment of silence, bells throughout the city of Dallas will toll. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and historian David McCullough will read excerpts from famous Kennedy speeches.

A new JFK monument will be unveiled during the ceremony, located in the ground on the infamous section of land known as the Grassy Knoll. The inscription on the monument is the final paragraph of the speech JFK intended to deliver at the Dallas Trade Mart on November 22, 1963.

If all goes as planned, supporters of different conspiracy theories — for example the Coalition on Political Assassinations — will not gather as they do annually at 12:30 p.m. on the Grassy Knoll.

Instead, the Dallas Morning News reports, the group will hold an event at the nearby JFK memorial, then move to Dealey Plaza after the main event is over. Some demonstrators gathered at Dealey Plaza on Thursday where many chanted: “No more lies. No more lies.”

The remarkable Sixth Floor Museum, which chronicles the Kennedy assassination, will open from 3 to 8 p.m. CT. Parkland Hospital, where Kennedy died, will hold a brief morning ceremony where the flag will be lowered to half-staff.

Also in Dallas on Friday, there will be a candlelight vigil for J.D. Tippit at 6 p.m. at the site where the 39-year-old Dallas Police officer was shot.

“I think the remembrance of him calls attention to all of the officers killed in the line of duty. We should remember those who have given their lives for our city,” Marie Tippit, who had been married to the officer for 17 years, told the Los Angeles Times this week. She told the paper she will also attend the ceremony at Dealey Plaza.

The Texas Theatre, the theater where Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended by police, will screen part of the movie “War Is Hell,” the film that was showing when Oswald slipped into the audience without paying.

Kennedy’s sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, is scheduled to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery at 8:30 a.m. ET. Smith was the eighth of nine children of Rose and Joseph Kennedy. She is the last surviving sibling of JFK.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston will ask visitors to gather to watch a video musical tribute to the President that includes James Taylor. A moment of silence will be held at 2 p.m., the time when a doctor approximated Kennedy had died.

WGN Radio Orion Samuelson talks about being on-air when President John F. Kennedy was shot.

Here in Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn is asking everyone to observe a moment of silence at 1 p.m. central time – the exact time President John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead.

The governor also ordered flags at all state facilities to be flown at half staff Friday.

The Chicago City Council also passed a resolution asking all Chicago churches to ring their bells, and school and places of worship are encouraged to join in the moment of silence.

Chicago’s only official ceremony is set for 12:30 p.m. at St. Jane’s Church on the Southwest Side.

For more on our coverage of the assassination of President Kennedy visit

Roscoe Illinois is about 90 miles northwest of Chicago and home to the Historic Auto Museum, which is home to one of the largest Kennedy artifact collection in the world.

Wayne Lensing opened his museum in 2001 and focused on cars.  It is a car that started his Kennedy collection. Known as the Queen Mary 2, it is the ‘56 Cadillac the Secret Service rode behind President Kennedy in Dallas Texas on November 22nd 1963.

It is the center piece of Lensing’s exhibit entitled Kennedy: Day in Dallas, a diorama he painstakingly put together following a trip to that fateful spot.

“I stood on the x, the historical marking is on the road right on the street there where Kennedy got assassinated,” Lensing said.  “I stood there and shot right under the underpass so I could get the perfect view.”

The car and the scene was just the beginning .  More than 400 pieces of memorabilia revolving around President Kennedy are on display.

Iconic photos, clothes worn by the First Family on display, including more than a dozen gowns worn by Jackie Kennedy , and the top from the cake that marked President Kennedy’s 45th birthday, are all part of the exhibit.

Also included, pieces of bloody upholstery from the president’s car following his assassination and a section of the wooden fence from the grassy knoll.  They were sent to Lensing from the Conspiracy Museum in Dallas.

While lensing has acquired most of his Kennedy memorabilia through auction houses, his collection continues to grow as more collectors recognize him as a true Kennedy aficionado.

It remains one of the darkest moments in American history: The assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Next week, will be the 50th anniversary of his death. And as people remember the man, new books are being written, but something else has surfaced.

President Kennedy visited Barrington High School and now an alum has uncovered photos of the event.

The photographs show the President during his visit back in 1960.

Until now, there was only one photograph of the event being circulated and most people thought it was the only one still around.

But Joyce Taillon found the pictures while going through a family photo album.  She is reportedly donating the photos to the Barrington School District.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.