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Reaction to the assassination of John F. Kennedy: Wikis

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Around the world, there was a stunned reaction to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the President of the United States, on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.

The first hour after the shooting, before his death was announced, was a time of great confusion. Taking place during the Cold War, it was at first unclear whether the shooting might be part of a larger attack upon the U.S., and whether Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had been riding two cars behind in the motorcade, was safe.

The news shocked the nation. Men and women wept openly. People gathered in department stores to watch the television coverage, while others prayed. Traffic in some areas came to a halt as the news spread from car to car.[citation needed] Schools across the U.S. dismissed their students early.[1] Anger against Texas and Texans was reported from some individuals. Various Cleveland Browns fans, for example, carried signs at the next Sunday's home game against the Dallas Cowboys decrying the city of Dallas as having "killed the President".[citation needed]

The event left a lasting impression on many Americans. As with the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor before it and the September 11, 2001 attacks after it, asking "Where were you when you heard about Kennedy's assassination" would become a common topic of discussion.

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The reaction

In the United States, the assassination dissolved differences among all people as they were brought together in one common theme: shock and sorrow after the assassination. It was seen in statements by the former presidents and members of Congress, etc. The news was so shocking and hit with such impact, it was later reported that 99% of the U.S. population knew about his murder within three hours afterwards, an amazing speed of a news item before round-the-clock cable television networks.

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Around the world

After the assassination, many world leaders expressed shock and sorrow, some going on television and radio to address their countrymen. In countries around the world, state premiers and governors and mayors also issued messages expressing shock over the assassination. Governments ordered flags to half-staff and days of mourning. Many of them wondered if the new president, Lyndon Johnson, would carry on Kennedy's policies or not.

In many countries radio and television networks, after breaking the news, either went off the air except for funeral music or broke schedules to carry uninterrupted news of the assassination, and if Kennedy had made a visit to that country, recalled that visit in detail. In several nations, monarchs ordered the royal family into days of mourning. The government of Iraq declared three days of national mourning.

At U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, switchboards lit up and were flooded with phone calls. At many of them, shocked personnel often let telephones go unanswered. They also opened up books of condolences for people to sign. In Europe, the assassination tempered Cold War sentiment, as people on both sides expressed shock and sorrow.

News of the assassination reached Asia during the early morning hours of November 23, 1963, because of the time difference, as people there were sleeping. In Japan, the news became the first television broadcast from the United States to Japan via the Relay 1 satellite instead of a prerecorded message from Kennedy to the Japanese people.

Unofficial mourning

Hastily organized memorial services for Kennedy were held throughout the world, allowing many to express their grief. Governments lowered flags to half-staff and declared days of mourning, and church bells tolled. A day of national mourning and sorrow was declared in the U.S. for Monday, November 25, the day of the state funeral. Many other countries did the same. Throughout the United States, many states declared the day of the funeral a legal holiday.

Not all recreational and sporting events scheduled for the day of the assassination and during the weekend after were canceled. Those that went on shared the sentiment NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle expressed in deciding to play NFL games that weekend: "It has been traditional...to perform in times of great personal tragedy."[2]

Mourning during the funeral

Mourning for Kennedy encompassed the world on the day of his funeral, November 25, 1963. The assassination shocked the world and people around the world attended memorial services.

This was a day of national mourning in the United States and in most countries around the world. Events were called off because of the mourning. Men and women everywhere were united in paying tribute to Kennedy. Town streets were deserted while services were held. Everyone who could followed the proceedings on television. Others heeded the call for the day of national mourning by going to their place of worship for a memorial service. Around the world, the funeral procession was sent abroad via satellite.

Schools, offices, stores, and factories were closed. Those that were open scheduled a minute of silence. Others permitted employees time off to attend memorial services. During memorial services, church bells tolled. In some cities, police officers attached black bands to their badges.

In many states, governors declared the day of national mourning as a legal holiday in their state, allowing banks to close. There was silence across the United States at 12:00 EST (17:00 UTC) for five minutes to mark the start of the funeral.

The somber mood across the nation during the weekend following Kennedy's death was evident on the broadcast airwaves. By 3 p.m. on November 22, nearly every television stations canceled their commercial schedules and stay with around-the-clock news coverage offered by their network of affiliation, whether it be ABC, NBC, or CBS. There were very few commercial independent stations at that time and its unclear how the few of them reacted. Also, Networks indeed from 3 p.m. EST that day until November 26 offered round the clock coverage, which was the first time any happening would get this kind of attention. Overnights tended to be taped footage of earlier news mixed with a few breaking news items.

Also, back in 1963, virtually every network affiliated television station signed off for the overnight between midnight and 3 a.m. and would sign back on between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. on time for morning network offerings. Independent stations had even earlier sign off times and later sign on times. During the aftermath of the assassination, some stations did stay on extended hours while others still would sign off late night and pick back up early the next morning (due in some cases to technical issues where equipment needed more maintenance). All coverage was commercial free.

Radio stations - even many Top 40 rock and roll outlets - also went commercial-free, with many non-network stations playing nothing but easy listening instrumental selections interspersed with news bulletins. Phil Spector's Christmas album, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, was pulled from store shelves at Spector's request, having sold terribly since the public was not in the mood for cheery holiday music; it was put back for sale for the 1964 season but didn't chart until 1972. Its also believed that the release of Beatles music was delayed until early in 1964 as well.[citation needed]

Tributes following the assassination

Tributes to Kennedy abounded in the months following his murder, particularly in the world of recordings. Many individual radio stations released album compilations of their news coverage of Kennedy's assassination; ABC News released a two-LP set of its radio news coverage. Major record labels also released tribute albums; at one point there were at least six Kennedy tribute albums available for purchase in record stores, with the most popular being Dickie Goodman's John Fitzgerald Kennedy: The Presidential Years 1960-1963 (20th Century 3127), which climbed to number eight on the Billboard album chart and stood as the biggest-selling tribute album of all time until the double-CD tribute to Princess Diana of Wales thirty-four years later ([1]).

Perhaps the most successful Kennedy tribute song released in the months after his assassination (although later hit songs such as "Abraham, Martin and John" and "We Didn't Start the Fire" also referenced the tragedy) was "In the Summer of His Years", introduced by British singer Millicent Martin on a BBC-TV tribute to Kennedy and a moderate hit for Connie Francis shortly afterward.

British heavy metal band Saxon wrote Dallas 1PM as a tribute and the song featured the line, "The world was shocked that fateful day. A young man's life was blown away, at Dallas 1PM". In 1965, the popular American band, the Byrds, released a song about President Kennedy called He Was a Friend of Mine on their second album, Turn! Turn! Turn!.

References

  1. ^ http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/white_house/kennedy/questions.html
  2. ^ Brady, Dave (November 24, 1963). "It's Tradition To Carry on, Rozelle Says". The Washington Post: p. C2. 

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