People in Tarboro and Edgecombe County are joining those across the nation and around the world in remembering the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963 as his motorcade passed the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the shooting, ruled by the Warren Commission to have been the lone act of Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald also killed Dallas policeman J. D. Tippitt, an 11-year veteran of the department, as he tried to evade capture.
Oswald himself was shot and killed by Jack Ruby two days later in the garage of the Dallas Police Department as the nation watched on television. There was never any explanation as to how Ruby, a strip club operator said to be well-known by the Dallas police, was able to walk into the garage unchallenged and literally shoot Oswald at point-blank range.
Debby Poindexter, responding to a Daily Southerner request for comments on Facebook, said, “I was a third grade student, Miss Keech's class, at North Tarboro (now called Stocks). It was recess and we were on the playground, probably playing kickball, when Mrs. Yelveton came running out the back door of her classroom, yelling that the President had been shot. I don't remember much after that except parents brought TV's to school and we spent our days watching all the proceedings on live TV.”
On Wednesday, honoring the legacy of Kennedy, President Barack Obama laid a wreath at the assassinated president’s gravesite in remembrance of that terrible day in Dallas. Obama also recognized a group of distinguished Americans — including Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey — with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award created by Kennedy.
Chris Hale posted a photo of the front page of The Daily Southerner that carried the news of the assassination, as well as a couple of covers from news magazines of the day, on the newspaper Facebook page.
Obama was joined at Arlington National Cemetery by Clinton, and each president held hands with Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert F. Kennedy, as they climbed a flight of stairs to the burial site on a steep hillside overlooking the nation’s capital.
The day of tributes began at the White House, where Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 living and deceased Americans for their contributions in fields ranging from sports and entertainment to science and public service.
“These are the men and women who in their extraordinary lives remind us all of the beauty of the human spirit, the values that define us as Americans, the potential that lives inside of all of us,” Obama said.
Kennedy established the modern version of the medal but was killed by Oswald just weeks before he was to honor the inaugural group of recipients. Hundreds of notable figures since have received the honor.
“This is a legacy of a man who could have retreated to a life of luxury and ease, but he chose to live a life in the arena,” Obama said. “Sailing sometimes against the wind, sometimes with it.”
Associated Press writers Mark S. Smith, Josh Lederman and Nedra Pickler contributed to this report.