50 Novembers: North Texas reflects, honors JFK




Posted on November 22, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 22 at 7:10 PM

DALLAS — It was 50 years ago Friday that a nation was shocked and saddened when shots rang out in downtown Dallas.

Friday, North Texas will celebrate President John F. Kennedy's life and reflect on that fateful day in 1963 when he was assassinated while riding through the downtown streets.

The solemn events started with a 7:30 a.m. breakfast at the Hilton Hotel in Fort Worth, where Kennedy gave one of his final speeches and spent his last night. The sold-out breakfast was hosted by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and featured several guest speakers, including the former Speaker of the House Jim Wright, who spent the morning with Kennedy the day of his assassination.

Before Wright spoke, the Chamber of Commerce presented a video highlighting the former congressman's accomplishments.

"If I should live to be 100 years old and I spent every waking hour thanking someone for the good and kind things he or she has done to be helpful to me, I still wouldn't have enough time," he said after the presentation.

A World War II veteran, Wright served as the mayor of Weatherford from 1950 to 1954 before he became a congressman and speaker of the house. Friday, Wright provided copies of Kennedy's speech given at the hotel.

"It was actually 50 years from right now, in this very place, the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy made the last speech," he said.

Wright said the speech the president gave that day was one of inspiration.

"He didn't criticize political opponents," he said. "He didn't beg for votes or political contributions. He spent the first moments of his speech bragging on Fort Worth."

Secret Service Agent Clint Hill, who was in the presidential motorcade and assigned to Mrs. Kennedy, also spoke.

Just after noon, Dealey Plaza will go silent as crowds gather for the ceremony marking the day. The ceremony is free and about 5,000 guests will attend. Each guest received a background check.

The fatal shots were fired at 12:30 p.m. as Kennedy rode in a motorcade through downtown Dallas. He was transported to Parkland Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1 p.m.

The Texas Theatre is also hosting an event Friday afternoon. The theatre will open for a special screening of "War is Hell." It's the same movie that was screening when Lee Harvey Oswald sneaked into the theatre at 231 Jefferson Street.

Oswald was a suspect in the murder of Dallas police Ofc. J.D. Tippit, who was killed only moments after Kennedy was assassinated. Police converged on the theatre after receiving word that Oswald was inside. Police struggled with Oswald before taking him into custody and marching him outside, where a crowd gathered.