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The Sioux Empire Remembers John F. Kennedy

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Friday, November 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

He was the 35th president of the United States, serving from January 1961 until he was assassinated in 1963 in Dallas, Texas.

There are plenty of people in the Sioux Empire who remember that day 50 years ago.

President John F Kennedy was in South Dakota on August 17th 1962. A crowd greeted Air Force One which landed in Pierre. Kennedy was then driven to the Oahe Dam on the Missouri River for a tour of the just completed project. 15 months later NBC News broke into programming to make this announcement.

“White House press secretary Malcolm Kilda has just announced that president Kennedy died at approximately 1 o'clock central standard time, which is about 35 minutes ago, after being shot by an unknown assailant during a motorcade drive through downtown Dallas.”

Like 9-11, the challenger disaster and the fall of communism the Kennedy assasination in Dallas is one of those pivotal moments in history people tend to remember where they were and what they were doing.

Since we are talking about an event that happened 5 decades ago, we decided to talk stop by Active Generations in Sioux Falls. Everyone we talked with remembers where they were when they heard President Kennedy had been shot.

Bonnie Blakemore was in class at Oregon State University

“They announced that the president had been shot, and I just burst into tears, I was crying. I just couldn't cope with the idea that the president was shot,” said Blakemore.

Tom Kilian also remembers the day the president was shot. The longtime vice president and administrator at Augustana College and Killian Community College says he was touring the new Pathfinder nuclear power plant near Brandon on that day in 1963.
“We were amazed first of all and shocked.”

Kilian says the assassination had a profound effect on the nation, because it left behind a mindset if the president isn't safe, then nobody is.       

“They had more illusion of idealic, a safe pleasant simple society, and it wasn't after all, it turned out,” said Kilian.

Kennedy was the last president to die in office. Assassination attempts would be made on other presidents. The most serious close calls involved Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. According to public records, every single president since Kennedy has been threatened.

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