Fifty years ago the assassination of President Kennedy was so traumatic, so unexpected and such a shared shock that a half century is not enough time to temper the lingering effect.
Ask anyone who was over, say, the age of three at the time and they remember.
I was in an Omaha television newsroom, KMTV, when the news wires began signaling the news. I raced to get it on the air, stunned, confused and wondering, "what now?"
I was just 23 and the wholly unexpected tragedy helped prepare me for a lifetime of covering world altering events.
Tom Hanks was in the second grade and he knew something was wrong when he saw his teacher crying. Jane Fonda went to her room in Paris, crying, thinking she'd never be safe again.
Steven Spielberg, a sophomore in high school, went home where his mother collapsed in his arms, sobbing.
The young neurosurgeon who examined the President wondered if the Russians were behind the killing.
The man who drove Lee Harvey Oswald to work that morning, a casual friend, never really recovered from his brief association. Marie Tippit, the widow of the Dallas policeman Oswald killed following the assassination, treasures a letter she received the following week from another widow, Jacqueline Kennedy.
All across America school teachers, bar tenders, doctors, priests, students stopped whatever they were doing and gathered around radios or television sets in their shared grief.
It was the end of something – the New Frontier, as Kennedy called his presidency -- and the beginning of another kind of presidency, that of Lyndon Baines Johnson who always believed Fidel Castro had something to do with the assassination, one of several conspiracy theories that live on.
A half century later, still so many questions, still such a sense of loss, still the reminders that life is not Camelot.
Explore our video interactive featuring clips from Tom Brokaw’s interviews with journalists, historians and friends of President Kennedy reflecting on the tremendous effect his life and death had on America, and its people.