The Wake of the JFK Assassination
America mourned this November week in 1963 following the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the murder of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit by Lee Harvey Oswald. Then there was the second “caught on camera killing” of Oswald himself.
That nightmarish week launched congregations of legislatures, communities and individuals to grieve together throughout the world.
Throughout the state capitol North Dakota National Guardsmen stood vigil as the North Dakota legislature assembled to offer their “deep sense of personal loss to Mrs. Kennedy and their expression of confidence in new President Lyndon Johnson.”
Schools were closed along with businesses in Minnesota as the state observed a national day of mourning.
Houses of worship tolled their bells and congregants took to the pews.
The Fargo City Commission, as one voice, pledged support to Lyndon Johnson and condolences to the Kennedy family.
Fargo Mayor Hershel Lashkowitz expressed: “The universal feeling of heartfelt sympathy of the commission and the people of Fargo for the Kennedy family.”
Moorhead State University president Dr. John Neumaier addressed over 2,600 mourners at Concordia Memorial Auditorium, saying:
“How can such despicable events take place in a civilized country? The sober answer is that we must reconcile ourselves in humility to the fact that none of mankind has lost its primitive drives, that underneath the surface of civility, society and the men in it have retained the potentially barbarian characteristics which have been part of man’s makeup through the centuries.”
A gathering of North Dakota state officials, their wives and the public listened as Supreme Court Judge Thomas J. Burke described the slain president, serving his first term, as “a man who belongs to the ages.”
Dakota Datebook written by Steve Stark
Fargo Forum newspaper, November 24, 25, 1963