Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. For those old enough — and for those too young — to remember, we offer these comments of news anchors Chet Huntley and Walter Cronkite. We believe their words remain relevant.
Chet Huntley, Nov. 22, 1963:
It’s a logical assumption that hatred — far left, far right — political, religious, economic or paranoid, moved the person or persons who today committed this combined act of murder and national sabotage.
There is in this country and there has been for too long an ominous and sickening popularity of hatred.
The body of the president, lying at this moment in Washington, is the thundering testimonial of what hatred comes to and the revolting excesses it perpetrates.
Hatred is self-generated, contagious. It feeds upon itself. It explodes into violence. It is no inexplicable phenomenon that there are pockets of hatred in our country, areas and communities where the disease is permitted or encouraged or given status by those who can and do influence others.
You and I have heard in recent months someone say: “Those Kennedys ought to be shot.” A well-known national magazine recently carried an article saying Chief Justice Warren should be hanged. In its own defense, it said it was only joking. But the left has been equally bad.
Tonight, it might be the hope and resolve of all of us that we’ve heard the last of this kind of talk, jocular or serious, bur the result is tragically the same.
Walter Cronkite, Nov. 25, 1963, the day of Kennedy’s funeral:
It is said that the human mind has a greater capacity for remembering the pleasant than the unpleasant. But today was a day that will live in memory and in grief. Only history can write the importance of this day: Were these dark days the harbingers of even blacker ones to come, or like the black before the dawn shall they lead to some still as yet indiscernible sunrise of understanding among men, that violent words, no matter what their origin or motivation, can lead only to violent deeds?
This is the larger question that will be answered, in part, in the manner that a shaken civilization seeks the answers to the immediate question: Who, and most importantly what, was Lee Harvey Oswald? The world’s doubts must be put to rest.
Tonight there will be few Americans who will go to bed without carrying with them the sense that somehow they have failed. If in the search of our conscience we find a new dedication to the American concepts that brook no political, sectional, religious or racial divisions, then maybe it may yet be possible to say that John Fitzgerald Kennedy did not die in vain.