By Rachel Lyons / Staff Writer

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th president of the United States of America, is known for saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” as he said in his January 20, 1961, inaugural address.

He worked hard to make good on that until November 22, 1963. 

1963 marked the third year of Kennedy’s four-year term, and as he was seeking reelection began campaigning again. Through those three years, he had built a reputation for working long hours, often 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. or later, and working to make the right, informed decisions. Between establishing the Peace Corps, ending school segregation, and working toward legislation for civil rights in 1963 came the campaigning, and it was a campaign event brought JFK to Dallas on November 21, 1963.

On November 22, the president found himself unassumingly passing through Dealey Plaza, directly in front of the Texas School Book Depository. Lee Harvey Oswald was allegedly in the building where he worked, and at 12:30 p.m., he allegedly fired shots from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Half an hour after Oswald allegedly fired his shots, and 20 minutes after the first public announcement, doctors at Parkland Hospital pronounced JFK dead. 

Paula Freeman, Rimmer Learning Resource Center Evening Supervisor, remembers the day well. “I remember I was in second grade… and the teacher started writing on the board in cursive, and we hadn’t started cursive yet,” Freeman said. “She wrote in that President John F. Kennedy has been assassinated, and all of us were just trying to figure out what she had written, and then she wrote that he had been shot and killed. And then someone asked her, ‘are you saying that our president got killed’ and she said yes. Then she said, ‘everybody just put your head down on the desk.’”

That fateful day changed the attitude and atmosphere of America for some time after. Just two days after the assassination, Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby prior to his trial. Sixty-three years later, America may have moved on from that day, but the impact from November 22, and JFK as a president, continue to this day.

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