Fort Worth to remember JFK at TCU event next month

Posted Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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JFK memories Did you or a loved one turn out to see President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963? The Star-Telegram wants to hear your story. Please email reporter Anna M. Tinsley at atinsley@star-telegram.com. Also, the Schieffer School of Journalism at TCU would like to recognize Fort Worth residents in the audience during President Kennedy’s last speech. If you were there, and would like to attend the “Fort Worth Remembers JFK” event on Sept. 11, please send an email to schiefferschool@tcu.edu or call 817-257-7425.

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Nearly 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy stood in front of the old Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, talking to thousands of people who had waited for hours — through rain and chilly temperatures — just for a chance to see him.

“There are no faint hearts in Fort Worth,” he told the crowd, before he was shot and killed later that day while riding in a motorcade in Dallas.

That day — Nov. 22, 1963 — remains forever etched in the history books. And Fort Worth forever holds a footnote for being the city where President Kennedy spent his last night alive and delivered his last public speech.

Journalists who covered the story, and local residents who heard the historic last speech, plan to share their stories during an upcoming “Fort Worth Remembers JFK” program at TCU.

“We want to preserve some history,” said John Lumpkin, director of the Schieffer School of Journalism at TCU. “Journalists … need to tell their stories again so there can be some record on this important date of what their memories are and how they’ve been affected through the years by Nov. 22 and the other events surrounding that.”

The Schieffer School of Journalism and the Star-Telegram are partners in producing the program. Organizers will provide free tickets to the event that starts at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 11 in TCU’s Ed Landreth Auditorium, 2800 S. University Drive.

Tickets for the event may be reserved at schiefferschool.tcu.edu starting Aug. 17.

“The Star-Telegram is the historical record of our community. When big events happen, people turn to the paper,” said Jim Witt, executive editor of the Star-Telegram. “We're honored to play a part in this program that will examine these events that happened 50 years ago.”

CBS’ Bob Schieffer, a former Star-Telegram reporter, will moderate the event and share his own memories of covering the story as well.

Others participating will include historian Hugh Aynesworth, former Star-Telegram reporter Mike Cochran, former KLIF radio anchor Gary DeLaune, former KRLD radio announcer Bob Huffaker — and actor Bill Paxton, who lived in Fort Worth at the time and was in the crowd witnessing the speech.

Schieffer has talked about how he was the night police reporter for the Star-Telegram at the time of the shooting. In the newsroom, he was trying to help answer phones that were ringing off the hook when a call came in from a woman asking for a ride to Dallas.

“I said, ‘Lady, you know, the president has just been shot, and besides, we're not a taxi service,’” Schieffer has recalled. “She said, ‘Yes, I heard it on the radio.’ She said, ‘I think the person they’ve arrested is my son.’ And it was Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother.”

Schieffer asked the woman for her address so he and another reporter could give her a ride to Dallas.

Cochran, who was 25 at the time, covered the presidential assassination as a correspondent for The Associated Press. His job the night before was to meet the president and his staff to answer questions they might have about Fort Worth. And he was to call the AP the next morning, when Kennedy’s plane left the ground for Dallas.

“I was back in the office when I heard the president was shot, and I immediately headed for Dallas,” Cochran has said. “It was an experience that was almost indescribable.”

Last year, officials in Fort Worth unveiled a Kennedy tribute — an 8-foot sculpture, photographs and a water wall. The JFK tribute is downtown, in the area where Kennedy last spoke to local residents, across from the old Hotel Texas, which is now the site of the Hilton Fort Worth hotel.

Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley

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