President Kennedy with his wife, Jacqueline, and Texas Governor John Connally in the presidential limousine, are shown minutes before the President's assassination.

Given the emerging hustle and bustle of an approaching holiday season, today might well pass many of us by, without even noticing its significance. 

Nov. 22, 2011 marks the 48th anniversary of the assassination of our nation’s 35th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, in Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

At 12:30 p.m., on that fateful day in 1963, three shots rang out, a cheering crowd gathered to see the celebrity-president, and our nation was changed. 

“It was just unbelievable.  We didn’t believe that it could happen to us,” says Athens resident Charles Spann.  Spann was a high school student in Tulsa, Okla. at the time, and recalls a shocked nation.

“Everyone was taken back.  The entire population was in shock.”

Spann said that almost everybody was focusing on the newscasts for several days, and that there was wide speculation that a Soviet assassination plot was responsible for taking Kennedy’s life.

Though the Warren Commission issued an official report stating that the President had been killed by lone-gunman Lee Harvey Oswald, claims of a wider plot to kill JFK have been unceasing since that November day in 1963.

Close to 20 years ago, Hollywood gave life to the assassination plot when Oliver Stone’s renowned film “JFK” speculated that the combined efforts of the Cuban government, the Mafia and our own CIA were to blame for our President’s death.

Whatever you believe, there is one common theme among those who witnessed one of the most uncertain days in the history of the U.S.  That theme was shock.

Athens Mayor Randy Daniel was a junior high student in Athens on the day of the killing.

“I remember being in 8th grade English, right after lunch when the teacher made the announcement.  We were all in shock,” Daniel said. “It really changed the course of the day for all of us.”

Daniel recalled, that in the days that followed, the mood that settled over this tiny part of our nation.

“My mother was very upset by all of it.  It cast a pall over adults and students alike, and we were all just glued to the TV sets.”

Close to 50 years later, Daniel still has trouble believing the news that JFK was killed.

“To this day, it still shocks me,” he said. “It’s almost like it was yesterday.”

Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders was a 2nd grader in Wellington, and remembered his school’s principal stepping into the doorway of the class, and giving his teacher the news.

“She turned around to us, and told us to put our heads on our desks,” Sanders said. “You could have heard a pin drop in there.  It was just very solemn.”

Sanders also told of watching the assassination of JFK’s killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, just days later on live T.V. 

“That was very off; like watching a movie, to see this guy stepping out of a crowd, and shooting at him at point-blank range.  I had the same feeling during 9/11 – seeing the plane hit the North tower.  Sometimes it’s just hard to believe what your eyes are seeing.”

The questions and uncertainty swirling around the JFK assassination may never be resolved.  Still, a nation can pause for a moment today, and remember the life of a President lost on a sunny street in Dallas.

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