50 years ago: A death in Dallas



This Friday is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. That year, as this, Nov. 22 was a Friday. The first edition of The Observer after the tragedy would not appear until Nov. 26.

By then, the nation, the world, had spent nearly a week in mourning and were transfixed by nonstop news coverage of the killing and its aftermath, including the apprehension and subsequent slaying (on live TV) of Lee Harvey Oswald; the arrival back in Washington of Jacqueline Kennedy, still wearing her bloodstained pink suit; thousands paying their respects at JFK’s coffin at the Capitol; his state funeral (modeled after Abraham Lincoln’s), and the interment at Arlington National Cemetery.

All the details were known. Thus, The Observer stories were simple round-ups focused on local reaction. (Unfortunately, there were no bylines.)

The paper had contacted political and religious leaders in the communities it covered in 1963 (Kearny, Harrison, East Newark and North Arlington). We have excerpted some of the quotes. But first, some context:

Kennedy was the first Catholic to be elected President, a stunning achievement in those days because he had faced religious bigotry that would be unthinkable now. He was also a champion of the nascent civil rights movement in a time when racial prejudice and segregation prevailed.

For a personal remembrance of that long-ago day, we have enlisted as guest columnist longtime Kearny resident Msgr. John Gilchrist. His column can be found on p. 6.

– Karen Zautyk

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