The images may be a half century old, but the impact still feels fresh.
"Brad, I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was a huge shock," says Pat Rice.
A president, in his prime, was taken from the nation...taken, in front of the nation. Our community, like countless others, was stunned.
"People said 'Oh God, please no," says HArley Drew. "I said, 'Oh my God, I can't believe this is happening."
"I know it was a time of turmoil in our country, but I did not expect the president to be killed," says Judith Ruffin
And, that's the common theme that connects the people we talked to. This was unexpected. It was painful to process.
Listen to Brian Mulherin, and you feel like you were riding with him a half century ago. "Where I was was on Walton Way, headed up to the Red Lion restaurant to meet somebody for lunch, and it came over the radio. Couldn't believe it. Cars were stopping and you had a feeling throughout that something has really happened," he says.
That voice on Mr. Mulherin's radio could very well have been Hall of Fame Broadcaster Harley Drew. "I ran a microphone out into the lobby, which was close to the teletype machine, and actually sat on a receptionist's desk and read news as it was fed to me from A.P. until the station signed off at sunset," he says.
Judith Ruffin is the widow of Judge Jack Ruffin. He was a pillar of Georgia's legal community, while she has shaped young lives as a music teacher. Before they dedicated themselves to this community, Mrs. Ruffin admired the Kennedy's dedication to this country. "I was very saddened because he was someone that I looked up to. I looked up to his family as leaders and as role models for young life, young family people," she says.
John F. Kennedy's election made him our country's first Catholic president, something certainly not lost on our local Catholic community. But, his assassination, people will tell you, was a tragedy that transcended where he went to church.
"At that point, Jack Kennedy was no longer an Irish-Catholic. He was our President. And everybody...Republican, Democrat, Independent, whatever you might have been...here is the most important man in the world, he's an American, he's ours, and somebody had the nerve to do this," says Rice. "It felt terrible for everybody and not just because he was a Catholic...our president, it was just a terrible time."
And the years since that terrible time continue to fly by...five decades and counting...faded headlines, old footage, and vivid recollections as a country and a community remember.
And, even as those headlines fade, the theories surrounding the murder of JFK are still very much in the forefront. After 50 long years, it seems that part of the Kennedy story will never go away.
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