Kennedy remembered, 50 years later

Published 10:07 pm Thursday, November 21, 2013

Few people who were alive at the time will forget where they were when they heard President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963.

The tragedy was to the people of that generation what the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, would be to their children.



Nancy Rountree of Suffolk Insurance has been with the company a long time. She still works there and worked there the day the president died.

Email newsletter signup

“I was working at Suffolk Insurance on North Main Street when one of the owners, Bob Crocker, came in and told us the President had just been shot,” she wrote in an email responding to a Suffolk News-Herald call for recollections of the moment. “It was a little later that we got the news that he had passed away. From that time on for the next few days we were glued to the TV screens, still not believing that it had happened.”

Fifty years later, the shooting remains a subject of fascination for many Americans, some of whom do not accept the official account of the crime — that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he plotted and carried out the assassination.

Reproduced below is the Associated Press story carried by the Suffolk News-Herald (then an afternoon paper) that day. Despite the large headline, “President is slain from ambush,” and the flash at the top, the early wire report was written as the situation continued to develop and says Kennedy was still alive.

It ran alongside the day’s more mundane local news about a blood drive and Boy Scouts obtaining the Eagle rank.


DALLAS — Two priests who were with Kennedy say he is dead of bullet wounds.


DALLAS (AP) — President Kennedy and Gov. John Connally of Texas were shot from ambush today. It was not known whether either was killed.

Rep. Albert Thomas, Democrat of Texas, said today he was informed Pres. Kennedy and Gov. Connally were both still alive after the assassination attempt.

Thomas, standing outside the corridor of the emergency room in which both Kennedy and Connally were under treatment, said that he had been told that the President was still alive but was “in very critical” condition.

The President was shot as his motorcade left downtown Dallas. Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and grabbed Mr. Kennedy. She cried, “Oh, no.” The motorcade went on. AP photographer James W. Altgens, said he saw blood on the President’s head.

Altgens said he heard two shots but thought someone was shooting firework until he saw blood on the President. He said he saw no one with a gun.

AP reporter Jack Bell asked Kenneth O’Donnel, the President’s assistant, if Kennedy was dead. O’Donnel gave no answer. Kennedy was reported taken to Parkland Hospital near a Dallas trade mart, where he was to have made a speech.

Bell said Kennedy was transferred to an ambulance. He lay on the seat of a car. Bell reported three shots were fired as the motorcade entered a triple underground which leads to the Stemmons Freeway route to Parkland Hospital.

Pandemonium broke loose around the scene.

The Secret Service waved the motorcade on at nonstop speed to the hospital. Even at high speed it took nearly five minutes to get the car to the ambulance entrance to the hospital. Reporters saw Kennedy lying flat on his face on the seat of the car.

In Washington, the White House press said at 1:45 it had nothing beyond press information on the shooting.

Kennedy apparently was shot in the head. He fell face down in the back seat of the car. Blood was on his head.

Connally remained half-seated, slumped to the left. There was blood on his face and forehead.