Thousands of people bowed their heads or clasped hands with loved ones in Dealey Plaza at 12:30 p.m. Friday to mark the precise moment 50 years ago that shots rang out to take the life of John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States.
The silence was broken with the singing of America the Beautiful by the U.S. Navy choir. The moment of reflection came midway through a solemn, 44-minute ceremony only steps from the site of the assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.
The weather — cold with a light, freezing drizzle — was in stark contrast to that Friday in 1963, which started cloudy but broke into bright sunshine by midmorning, prompting the presidential motorcade to remove the clear-bubble protection atop the limousines.
Creating a silent backdrop to the ceremony was the red-brick building that once housed the Texas School Book Depository, where, according to the Warren Commission, Lee Harvey Oswald fired the rifle shot from a six-story window that killed the 46-year-old president.
The memorial was the first for Dallas, which had avoided any commemoration of the darkest day in its history. In previous years, conspiracy theorists gathered in Dealey Plaza to express their doubts of the official conclusion that gunman Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.