From Slate, Jeff Franzen, an eyewitness, age six, “just behind the grassy knoll”:
…As the president’s car started approaching, there was a wave of sound—I could hear louder and louder cheering from further up the route. As the car turned the far corner, people started walking and running down the hill to be where we were to see the motorcade for a second time. It was a crystal clear day and the sun was over our shoulder. Then the car came down the hill toward us and I heard the three pops. I assumed it was firecrackers—that made sense to me at a parade.
I was looking at the car with the president in it and—after the pops—I saw what I thought was confetti. It was the shot that caused the president’s head to explode. My Mom cried out, “Oh, my God.” So I’m watching, I hear the bangs, see what I think was confetti, hear my mom yelling, and I realized something was very wrong…
Murray Kempton and James Ridgeway, reporting for TNR, in 1963:
… They ask too much of us when they ask us to act up to the grand style. We are not emotionally affluent people. And yet some of us always complained that Mr. Kennedy did not seem quite emotionally committed enough… He had too much respect for the grand style to counterfeit it; how much truer to him might we have been if we had come down in scale and if the many of us who must have remembered the lines from Cymbeline had thought them proper to speak.
“Fear no more the heat of the sun/Nor the furious winter’s rages.
Thou thy worldly task hast done/Home art thou and ta’en thy wages.
Golden lads and girls all must/As chimney sweepers come to dust.”
… For we had lost in the instant the hope of beginning again. Reason might argue that the sense of a new start was already gone. The main story in the morning’s Washington Post had detailed the exculpations of a Congressman who had made a 1,000 percent profit from a stock company which had enjoyed his good offices with the Internal Revenue Service. The very Senate which dissipated in shock at the news from Texas had just before been waspishly disputing the privileges and emoluments of elective office. For weeks it had been hard to remember anyone in Washington talking about anything except who was getting what from whom. Mr. Kennedy seemed to be wasting in his city and to be nourished only by the great crowds in the countryside. The films from Dallas, painful as they were, reinforced the feeling that he was his old self only away from Washington. It could be argued then that we would see a time when we recognized that all that promise had been an illusion; but you need only look at hope lain dead to know how easy it is to look forward to regret. It had been less than three years since Mr. Kennedy had announced that a new generation was taking up the torch, now old General de Gaulle and old Mr. Mikoyan were coming to see the young man buried…
Charles P. Pierce, today:
The murder of John Kennedy in broad daylight in the streets of an American city remains, to me, an unsolved crime. I do not accept the notion that the Warren Commission, created to allay public panic and not to investigate, and composed of wise men from Washington who had made careers out of knowing more than they ever would tell, somehow still managed to stumble onto the correct interpretation of all of the events of that surreal weekend. (Hell, Allen Dulles was on that Commission and Kennedy had fired his lying ass less than a year earlier.) I stopped believing in the Warren Commission even before it was put together. I stopped believing in the Warren Commission when I sat on my living room floor and watched the accused murderer of the president get gunned down on live TV in a roomful of Dallas cops. I stopped believing in the Warren Commission when I watched a lynching with my parents while the dead president was lying in state in the White House and as the country went numb around me…