This Day, 50 Years Ago: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated on this day 50 years ago.

Like today, November 22 in 1963 was also a Friday. The murder of the 35th US President took place at 3.30am Saturday, AEST. Most Australians heard the news when they awoke on Saturday morning.


I was a young boy in Grade 2, living in rural Australia. Television had not yet arrived in country areas and I’m sure this is the main reason I have next to no memory of the assassination. I do recall seeing newspaper reports of Kennedy’s death and a sense of confusion when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby. My child’s mind could barely make sense of the names and the events. I have an indistinct recollection of talking about it with my mother. I have no memory of the event being discussed at school.

In just a few years, JFK became an iconic figure of my childhood but it was all in retrospect. Lyndon Johnson is the first US president I remember in real time.

On the day of the assassination, Australia was one week away from a federal election. On November 30, Sir Robert Menzies was re-elected to his 7th consecutive, and final, term as Prime Minister. The election had been called a year early and Menzies capitalised on the ALP’s “faceless men” in his campaign. There wasn’t much doubt he was going to win the election but the assassination probably militated against change.

  • A haunting live broadcast of the assassination (2m)
  • The Speech President Kennedy Never Made – the text of the speech Kennedy was due to give at the Trade Mart, the destination of his motorcade through Dallas.

  • The Abraham Zapruder film:

  • How the Associated Press reported the assassination:

  • “What The World Needs Now: Abraham, Martin and John”, by Tom Clay (circa 1970)

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