The shots rang out in Dallas almost 50 years ago. On Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy lay dead. And so much of life seemed instantly different.
The loss of life is always a cause for mourning. But some violent passings are sudden and seminal moments. The assassination of President Kennedy was one of those tragic events, an extraordinary occurrence by which other experiences in our lives are marked.
Those who were alive at the time Kennedy was killed likely carry vivid pictures of the media coverage of the assassination. Younger Americans know of it only as a notable historical event, but still their lives were altered - before they were born - by the way the nation reacted to the shooting.
The assassination of Kennedy is among the most influential events in the history of the United States, along the same line as the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the American Revolution, the creation of the atomic bomb, the Vietnam War, the Louisiana Purchase, the Civil War and the attack on the World Trade Center.
In recognition of the 50th anniversary of his death, the Constitution-Tribune will be publishing stories about the ways in which his death changed the national landscape. The C-T would like to have your thoughts, your recollections, your feelings and even your historical photographs and mementos related to the murder of the man known to the world simply by his initials: JFK.
How to submit: Email photos or memories to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to the Constitution-Tribune at 818 Washington Street, Chillicothe, MO 64601.
Below are some suggestions to help you get started.
1. A point in time: It is a question that almost all who were alive at the time of the Kennedy assassination can answer with accuracy: Where were you when you heard that the president was shot? At school. At work. At home with the children. The time of day, where you were standing, what was said in the minutes after the announcement - all of these things remain vivid memories. Tell us about that moment in your life.
2. Personal memories: Did you hear Kennedy speak in person? Were you fortunate enough to meet him? Did you or your family work on his campaign? Would you have crossed paths with Kennedy on any other occasion? Send us any pictures you have. Tell us your most vivid moment.
3. The moments after: In late November 1963, parents and children gathered mesmerized around living room television sets. How did you and your family spend the hours and days after the assassination? Were there fears? Do you remember talking to friends and family about it? Did you attend a local memorial service? What images in the aftermath of the assassination - Kennedy's casket in the Capitol building, the caisson and the funeral procession, widow Jacqueline Kennedy standing with the Kennedy children - remain clear in your memory?
Page 2 of 2 - 4. Artifacts of history: Many Americans were given campaign trinkets - pictures, buttons, keychains - during Kennedy's campaign. Most newspaper readers stashed away copies of special editions published in the dark days after the assassination. Some people might have bought souvenirs that commemorated the life of the president. All of those items, with other Kennedy memorabilia, might have been placed in boxes and stored for safekeeping. What has been saved and passed down in your family? Take a photo and upload it, email or mail it to us.
5. Changed lives: In the years and decades that followed the killing of Kennedy, life went on. Still, it clearly was altered by our reaction to the assassination. Parents named children after the president. Men and women entered the Kennedy-fostered Peace Corps. How did the passing of JFK influence your life? Did it change your political views? To what degree did it affect your confidence in the safety of society? And, if you are among the multitude of people who were born in the 50 years since this page in history was turned, what is your historical perspective on the assassination of the 35th president of the United States?
6. 13 Years Later: Thirteen years after JFK’s assassination, the people of Chillicothe, northwest Missouri and throughout the nation mourned the death of Jerry Litton, a rising young congressman whose political views resonated deep within Americans. Litton died in a plane crash just after take-off from the Chillicothe airport while en route to a victory party after winning Missouri’s state Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in August 1976. Are there similarities between these two men and their deaths?