U.S. honors JFK on 50 years after assassination
WASHINGTON – People across the United States came to honor former U.S. President John F. Kennedy on Friday, the day marking the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Dallas, Texas.
President Barack Obama ordered flags on all public buildings across the country to be flown at half-staff while calling on Americans to honor the memory of Kennedy and to celebrate his “enduring impact on American history.”
“And it’s been an incredible legacy but JFK in particular, I think, captured the idealism, the ability to imagine and remake America to meets its ideals, in a way we haven’t seen before or since,” Obama said in a interview with ABC.
“And I don’t know of anyone who has had that same impact on a generation and inspired so many people as JFK has,” he added.
Obama on Friday met with leaders and volunteers from the Peace Corps, also established by Kennedy. He, together with former President Bill Clinton, laid a wreath at Kennedy’s grave on Wednesday.
Joined by other members of Kennedy family, Jean Kennedy Smith, Kennedy’s last surviving sibling, on Friday laid a wreath at his grave in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Overlooking Washington, wreath of flowers were placed while the eternal flame is continually lit. Many people showed up to pay their respects to the former leader.
Russell Young, from Pennsylvania, said he came to pay tribute to the great man and his family. Fifty years ago, Young, still a 9-grade student, was sent home early with other schoolmates as ordered by the principal and did not know what was going on until he got home and watched it on TV.
“Even at 12 years old, it didn’t sink in until you watched it on TV and realized what was going on,” Young said.
Patricia Williams, now live in the capital, said Kennedy’s assassination “changed everything for us” and broke hearts of many people.
Williams, a then nine-year-old when Kennedy was killed, said Kennedy was a great leader and served as an inspiration most of all.
“I think Kennedy has been remembered until today because he had transformed our country, and he was young, vigorous and giving people hope and inspiration to the future,” said Williams.
Kennedy’s death that shocked the world 50 years ago seems too far away for 12-year-old girl Zahra Heussen. But she said she has recently learnt a lot about Kennedy and his stories in school and at home.
“My dad says his thoughts are still with us, and we can still learn from what he said,” said Heussen.
She added that her favorite quote of Kennedy is “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” which made her “want to help.”
According to a Gallup poll released on Monday, 74 percent of Americans believes Kennedy is an outstanding or above-average president as he goes down in history, which is the highest rating among the past 11 presidents. Former President Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton receives the ratings of 61 percent and 55 percent respectively. All other presidents received ratings lower than 50 percent, with some of ratings significantly low.
Till today, there is still a lot of controversies over Kennedy’s death in the country, in particular whether he was struck down by bullets from a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.