Commemoration Events in Boston on the 50th Anniversary of JFK’s Assassination

Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy was killed, a long list of events, books, and TV specials look back the life of JFK and his death on November 22, 1963.

By | Arts & Entertainment |

Fifty years after he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, the face of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is still as familiar as the face of a current movie star. Hard to believe JFK has been dead for longer than he was alive.

With the¬†50th anniversary¬†of¬†JFK’s¬†death next week (Friday, November 22), many will spend the coming week reflecting on the life and legacy of the former president.¬†Here are some local commemoration events taking place:

Events in Boston

Special Exhibit

“A Nation Remembers” is a special exhibit opening at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum. The exhibit will include artifacts from the John F. Kennedy’s funeral, which took place at Arlington National Cemetery. A million people lined the streets that day, while much of the adult population of the United States followed the event on TV. Also check out JFK50.org, where you can explore all the ways JFK was influencing the world around him 50 years ago (includes audio clips from speeches by the charismatic leader).

Exhibit starts Friday, November 22, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Columbia Point, jfklibrary.org.

Wreath Laying Memorial Ceremony

The John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site in Brookline will offer free admission on the 50th anniversary of the 1963 National Day of Mourning following JFK’s¬†assassination.¬†Ranger-guided house tours will take place on Saturday, and self-guided tours will be available throughout the day on Sunday. A brief memorial ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, with a wreath-laying, a reading of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1963 National Day of Mourning Proclamation, and more. Students from Brookline’s Edward Devotion School will perform “America the Beautiful.”

Free, Saturday, November 23, and Sunday, November 24, John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, 83 Beals St., Brookline, nps.gov.

Lecture

On this 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy‚Äôs assassination, author and Boston Public Library staff member John Devito will host ‚ÄúThe Death of JFK and the Enduring Power of Camelot.‚ÄĚ The talk will explore the many ways Kennedy‚Äôs death became a vital part of pop culture. And while your at the library, you might as well look for some related reading recommendations (see below).

Free, Thursday, November 21, 2-4 p.m., Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St., bpl.org.

Film 

The Boston Public Library’s Monday Night Film Series remembers John F. Kennedy with two weeks of JFK-related films. On November 18, they will screen¬†Love Field, about a¬†Dallas housewife who is fascinated with Jacqueline Kennedy, becomes devastated when President Kennedy was shot, and then goes on a journey to attend JFK’s funeral. On November 25, you can watch Thirteen Days, a¬†drama about the Kennedy administration’s struggle to contain the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Free,  Monday, November 18, and Monday, November 25, 6 p.m., Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St., bpl.org.

Books

Every year’s a busy year for Kennedy books. But this season is particularly vigorous; publishing houses large and small have released scores of new books. Here is a small sampling:

JFK’s Last Hundred Days, by Thurston Clark

If the late summer and fall of 1963 hadn’t been so heavily overshadowed by Kennedy’s assassination, they’d go down in history as some of the most influential days of JFK’s life.¬†JFK‚Äôs Last Hundred Days reexamines the last months of the president‚Äôs life to show a man “in the midst of great change, finally on the cusp of making good.”

If Kennedy Lived, by Jeff Greenfield 

In his new book, Jeff Greenfield attempts to answer the question “What if JFK lived?”¬†What would the next campaign have been like? How would Kennedy have handled Vietnam, civil rights, and the Cold War?

A Cruel and Shocking Act, by Philip Shenon

It’s not like the backstory to the JFK assassination hasn’t been written and rewritten a bajillion times over. Philip Shenon is a New York Times alum though, and his investigation into the Warren Commission just might change the way you think about the assassination and the flawed investigation that followed.

Top Down, by Jim Lehrer

Journalist Jim Lehrer tells the fictitious story of two men haunted by the events leading up to John F. Kennedy’s assassination.The book asks the question, what if the glass bubble top on the car in which President John F. Kennedy was riding in Dallas had not been removed by a Secret Service agent?

Television

In addition to network and cable news channels’ coverage of JFK, you can also expect plenty of special programming, a made-for-TV movie, and numerous documentaries about JFK in the coming week. Here are just a few:

The Sixties: The Assassination of JFK

This is the first installment of a 10-part documentary series produced by Tom Hanks. The two-hour program will examine the key conclusions of the Warren Commission and the effects that Kennedy’s death had on the nation. The rest of the docu-series about the 1960s will continue in 2014.

CNN, Thursday, November 14, 9 p.m., cnn.com.

Killing Kennedy

Based on the best-selling book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, this film stars Rob Lowe as President Kennedy, Will Rothhaar as Lee Harvey Oswald, Michelle Trachtenberg as Marina Oswald, and Ginnifer Goodwin as Jackie Kennedy. While a fair portion of the buzz for Killing Kennedy has focused on Rob Lowe’s hair (perfect) and accent (not so much), reviews have lauded the performances of the leading actors.

National Geographic, Friday, November 15, 8 p.m., nationalgeographic.com.

As It Happened: John F. Kennedy 50 Years

CBS News will air a primetime special with host Bob Schieffer, where he recalls the fear and tension in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Schieffer was a reporter at the time for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the day of the assassination. CBS News will also stream their 1963 coverage of the assassination online on November 22.

CBS, Saturday, November 16, 9 p.m., cbsnews.com

Letters to Jackie: Remembering President Kennedy

A long list of celebrities including Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Channing Tatum, and John Krasinski bring to life some of the more than 800,000 condolence letters sent to the White House in the two months after Kennedy’s death.

TLC, Sunday, November 17, 9 p.m., tlc.com.

JFK Assassination: The Definitive Guide & Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours To Live

A nationwide survey by History found that 74 percent of Americans believe that Oswald was the fall guy for a bigger conspiracy, the channel says. A two-hour special explores ‚Äúthe myriad alternative theories that Americans find more plausible‚ÄĚ than the lone-gunman finding of the Warren Commission.

History, Friday, November 22, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., history.com.

Where Where You: The Day JFK Died

Tom Brokaw anchors a two-hour documentary combining personal reflections and NBC News archival footage. The special concludes a week of JFK anniversary programming on NBC, which has also launched a unique interactive video experience at NBC.com, including interviews with notable figures and archived clips of JFK.

NBC, Friday, November 22, 8 p.m., nbcnews.com

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