Dallas (AFP) – With flags fluttering at half-mast, bells tolling and children singing, the United States pauses Friday to remember President John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.
It was a singularly dark turning point in the nation’s history, one that many still remember vividly.
Across America people will reflect upon the words of a charismatic man whose soaring rhetoric and call to service continues to inspire.
“Today, we honor his memory and celebrate his enduring imprint on American history,”President Barack Obama wrote Thursday.
Across the Atlantic, Kennedy will be remembered, too. A wreath laying ceremony is planned in the Berlin neighborhood where Kennedy gave his famed Cold War-era “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech to a rapturous crowd.
At the Tate Modern art gallery in London, the only known contemporary painting of the assassination will go on display.
In a proclamation ordering flags be lowered to half-mast at government buildings and even from people’s homes, Obama recalled Kennedy’s leadership in the Cuban Missile Crisis, his speech in Berlin and his drive to advance the rights of African Americans and women in the United States.
“Today and in the decades to come, let us carry his legacy forward,” Obama wrote. “Let us face today’s tests by beckoning the spirit he embodied — that fearless, resilient, uniquely American character that has always driven our Nation to defy the odds, write our own destiny, and make the world anew.”
‘The power to change this country is ours’
Former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing said his nation, too, was stunned by the killing of Kennedy and what his death brought to a halt.
“When a dream is killed, it is not just the person who is killed. The dream is killed with him,” he told French radio.
He recalled the Kennedy White House, which he visited, as a place brimming with youth eager to change the world. “He inspired me deeply,” Giscard d’Estaing said.