On Nov. 22, the nation will remember and relive the tragedy from a half-century ago when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated during a parade at Dealey Plaza in Dallas.
The president was fatally shot by a sniper while traveling with his wife, Jackie, Texas Gov. John Connally, and Connally's wife, Nellie, in a presidential motorcade on the fall day in 1963.
Citizens of Cass County, and across the United States, grieved the death of the president, prompting a season of mourning throughout the country and globe.
Many offices and schools shut down for several days following the assassination.
According to an article in the Nov. 26, 1963 issue of the Cass County Democrat Missourian, “Along with the world, Harrisonville and Cass County residents were deeply shocked Friday when word came that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas.”
“The general consensus could be summed up in the question, ‘How could it happen here?’” the article stated.
Former Harrisonville Mayor Ted Behler proclaimed that the city would observe Monday as a day of mourning. Behler also dispatched a telegram to Mrs. Kennedy the day after the shooting.
“Along with the Nation and the state we do hereby proclaim Monday, November 25, 1963, a day of mourning in Harrisonville. All city offices and functions except those essential to the safety and protection of the city will be closed,” the message read. “The smaller towns and villages of this Nation which individually cannot obviously be heard through the media of radio and television do neverless suffer with you the grief of the events of November 22nd. So it is that the community of Harrisonville, Cass County, Missouri, wishes to convey to you the family of our dearly beloved president our expression of affection and sympathy in this hour of trial. May the prayers and sorrow of this small town in western Missouri help to sustain you in your grief and on the behalf of our citizens may we with humble and contrite soul convey to you our homage for the sacrifice which your husband, father, son and brother has been called upon to lay down up the altar of freedom.”
The newspaper clipping reports that churches in Harrisonville were jammed full on the following Sunday. Some churches also held memorial services in honor of Kennedy on Monday as many businesses remained closed.
Within 80 minutes of Kennedy’s death, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the new president.
“He asked for our help, and for God’s,” the Democrat Missourian article read.
A t10-month investigation by the Warren Commission concluded that Kennedy was murdered by 24-year-old Lee Harvey Oswald, lurking in a warehouse window with a $13 gun and $.50 worth of bullets, altering the course of history.
“When I heard the news I was stunned.
I just wanted to tell everyone I saw, and everyone was crying. I was so afraid after that point that someone could do
something so terrible to our country. I
just wanted to hold my kids so I went
and picked them up at school.”
Betty Butner, Harrisonville
“I was living in Chicago and was at
home that day. I remember my parents were very upset and our black and
white TV was on constantly.”
Martha Gilbert, Harrisonville
“I remember that was the day my cousin was born. We were all sitting in the living room watching the tragedy on TV.
It's hard to forget that day.”
Sherry Krohn, Harrisonville
“I was four years old and lived in Parsons, Kan. We were watching the parade in Dallas on an old Philco black and white TV at my grandma and grandpa’s house. The parade stopped at the time of the assassination. I turned the TV off not realizing what had happened and my Grandpa gave me a whippin’. JFK was my favorite president, he and Lincoln. They were both awesome men and
there are too many similarities
between the two of them.”
Marilyn Taylor, Raymore
“I was pregnant with my first son, sitting on a divan (Richard, my husband, worked for a large farmer). I just sat there stunned, and scared until he came for me. Cried all the way back to
Harrisonville. Will never forget that day.”
Earlene Troby, Harrisonville
“I was sitting in my second grade class at the old Creighton school. Our principal, Jim Adkins, walked in to tell us that school was cancelled and our president had been shot. We were out of school for days. I watched it for days on our black and white, little screen TV. I was really interested because Caroline was close to my own age and it was sad to see her and her little brother, “John John.” And Jackie was always fascinating. That was all that was on the three stations that we had. It should also be noted that I felt the loyalty to our country and president during that time. People showed respect and the entire country was in mourning. Even at my young age I felt the impact.”
Leigh Friedrich, Harrisonville
“It was devastating watching it on TV.
I couldn't believe it had actually
Barbara Yeager, Harrisonville
“I was 4 years old, and my parents and I had just moved in to a brand new house. We were watching it on the TV, sitting on blankets on the floor.”
Cindy Durnell Friend, Harrisonville
“A neighbor and I had gone to Garden City to pick up some posts and I heard about it when I got back home. Mr. Hunt, the agriculture extension agent was waiting for me to get back. Ted, my wife, and Mr. Hunt sat around the TV watching it in disbelief. No one could believe it had happened.”
Ted Zellmer, Harrisonville
“It's strange how everyone remembers where they were when this happened. I was 13 at the time and playing in a
basketball game in Ballard. They stopped the game and made the announcement that President Kennedy had been killed. It took a while for it to sink in.
Everyone cried and wondered how this would affect our country.”
Becky Abbott, Garden City