JFK in Dallas, 50 years later

The country is marking the death fifty years ago today of President John F. Kennedy, who was shot as he rode through Dealey Plaza in Dallas in an open car. Just 43 years old in 1960, he was the youngest man elected to the presidency and, just three years later, he was the youngest U.S. president to die.

The media is awash in tribute and memorial pieces. The New Yorker has a short slide show of iconic photos of the president and the sad days that followed his assassination. National Public Radio’s Story Corps project caught up with the family of Dallas ambulance driver Aubrey Rike, who was on duty at Parkland Memorial Hospital when Kennedy’s body arrived. Rike was, incredibly, one of the four people in the room when a priest said the last rites: It was Jackie Kennedy, Rike, his partner Dennis “Peanuts” McGuire, and the priest.

“And then Mrs. Kennedy took off her wedding ring and tried to put it on President Kennedy’s finger, but it wouldn’t go,” Rike’s wife Glenda tells NPR. “So, when [Rike] saw what she was trying to do, he helped her, and she thanked him.”

Unofficial presidential historian David McCullough is speaking on the brief Kennedy presidency in Dealey Plaza today. Roughly 5,000 people, rung round with high security, will attend.

“Michael” has been by far the most popular name for boys in the United States in the last hundred years. In 1963, the name “John” rose to number two, and it stayed there for three years running.

[ Photo: Then-Senator Kennedy and Jackie campaigning in New York City, 1960. By Cornell Capa/Magnum. ]