Nightly News   |  November 22, 2013

Thousands turn out to remember John F. Kennedy

In Dallas the cold and windy weather on Friday provided a sharp contrast to the bright sunshine of 50 years ago when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The nation paused to remember Kennedy, and what was most important about NBC’s Brian Williams reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> texas. we're in dealey plaza just across from the sixth floor window in the texas school book depository building where three shots were fired 50 years ago today that changed the course of american history . and here in the shadow of that very building it was a perfectly awful day. 35 degrees, rain and wind, perfectly matching how dark it felt to be here today. and going back 50 years ago tonight, by this time of night, right now, air force one had just landed back in washington, d.c. carrying the president's casket, his widow jacqueline kennedy and the new president, lyndon johnson . most americans were home for the day. schools and offices let out early, and millions by this time were huddled around their television sets where they would remain transfixed watching the coverage on and off for the next four days. here now is how david brinkley started off this broadcast on this very night 50 years ago.

>> good evening. the evention fac are these. president kennedy was murdered in dallas , texas. he was shot by a sniper hiding in a building near hisarade route. he was dead within an hour. lyndon johnson is president of the united states .

>> nbc news from november 22nd , 1963 . just over six hours after the shots were fired from the building here behind us, meaning this place and this city and our country would never be the same. the cold and wind and rain here in dallas today was a sharp contrast to the bright sunshine of 50 years ago, weather beautiful enough to ride in an open car. today, one half century later, thousands turned out to remember john f. kennedy .

>> the people of this cityave been felled with a sense of industry born of tragedy.

>> the place has little changed since that day 50 years ago. thousands were here then, too. people lined the motorcade route, the final critical moments captured by the film camera of april hack zapruder.

>> how are you? across the street that day was pierce almon, then 29 years old, a local broadcaster. he heard the shots, heard mrs. kennedy cry out, in fact. he ran into the boo depository building. in the doorway he passed and spoke to oswald not knowing he was the assassin. inside he used the only available phone line to report live details on the air.

>> this was the door you entered.

>> this was the door. it's changed, and when you go inside, the lobby is totally different, but when i ran out from here, i saw him standing in the doorway . i said where's the phone? he said in there. i made eye contact briefly and went inside and got on the only phone in the lobby.

>> this is abraham zapruder from the texas book depository .

>> also shot that day was governor john connolly sitting in front of kennedy .

>> i said my god they are going to kill us all.

>> the motorcade sped qckly to parkland hospital where president kennedy was pronounced dead.

>> president kennedy died at approximately 1:00 central standard time which is about 35 minutes ago.

>> for all anyone knew the u.s. was under attack. there was more coming. the new president, lyndon johnson , feared a wider plot.

>> what raced through my mind was that if they had shot our president driving down there, who would they shoot next? and what would -- what was going on in washington? and when would the missiles be coming?

>> on board air force one that day westinghouse reporter sid davis was there when johnson was sworn in.

>> i ask for your help, and god's. america, america

>> today here in dallas they sang the navy hymn for navy vetera john f. kennedy . in this city where there are still so many reminders of that day half a century ago, not just dealey plaza itself and the school book depository building, but also the texas theater whe lee harvey oswald wasrrested that afternoon and the municipal building , dallas police headquarters, where oswald was shot on live television two days later. people gathered today in dearborn, michigan to see the jfk presidential limousine . they gathered in boston at the jfk library to see the flag that covered the casket and to hear james taylor . ever give up, never slow down never grow ol never ever die young

>> astronaut and navy commander chris cassidy read kennedy 's words.

>> i am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to ow and to hope and to build a better life for their children.

>> today the historian david mccullough reminded this crowd what was important about john f. kennedy .

>> he knew wordsmattered. his words