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Church bells will toll throughout Dallas on Nov. 22 to honor President John F. Kennedy, and a moment of silence at 12:30 p.m. will mark the moment 50 years ago when he was assassinated.
That will be part of the solemn ceremony the city of Dallas has planned to commemorate the anniversary of the president’s death in 1963. The ceremony, in Dealey Plaza where Kennedy’s motorcade was passing when he was shot, will also feature Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough reading from the president’s speeches, a ceremonial flyover and prayers, in addition to a performance by the U.S. Naval Academy’s Men’s Glee Club in a nod to Kennedy’s military service.
“I think it’s going to be emotional,” said Ruth Altshuler, chairwoman of the committee that organized the city event. Fifty years ago, she was among those waiting at the Trade Mart to hear a speech Kennedy was on his way to give; later she was on the grand jury that indicted Jack Ruby, who killed Kennedy’s accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.
A year of commemorations by organizations throughout the city culminates this month with anniversary events ranging from musical performances to historical exhibits to panels featuring journalists and others with ties to the events of that day.
“I think it’s been wonderful that each group has chosen its own way to commemorate,” Altshuler said.
An exhibit at the Old Red Museum, which faces Dealey Plaza, opened this month detailing how the work of Mayor J. Erik Jonsson, elected after the assassination, helped the city recover.
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will present concerts featuring the world premiere of a work commissioned for the occasion titled “The World is Very Different Now” by 19-year-old Conrad Tao, and Darius Milhaud’s “Murder of a Great Chief of State,” composed in the weeks after the assassination. Violinist Joshua Bell will perform.
The Texas Theatre, where Oswald was arrested, will screen the movie he sneaked into, “War Is Hell,” as part of a Nov. 22 program recalling the involvement of theater employees and others in catching the suspect.
The citizen-led JFK Day of Service on Nov. 23 is meant to encourage people to volunteer at charitable organizations. The nonprofit art organization 29 Pieces has placed thousands of works of art throughout the city reflecting on love.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, the museum that tells the story of the assassination from the building where Oswald made his sniper’s perch, has hosted myriad events this year, including panels with those who witnessed the events of that day.
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