Fifty years ago today, and just 100 miles south of Durant, the United States lost a president - and much of a nation’s innocence.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy still resonates as one of America’s darkest days. That fact was not lost on a small group which gathered this week to honor the slain president.
Members of the Young Democrats of Southeastern and the Bryan County Democratic Women attended a memorial service Tuesday honoring Kennedy. The event was held in the Student Union at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
Some tangible artifacts from that fateful day were brought to the event, showing that a half century later, the tragic events in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, have not been forgotten.
Dr. Glenn Melancon, a history professor at the university, brought a letter from then-Senator Carl Albert addressed to the school’s student Democrat group one day after the tragedy. They had planned to meet with the president, but then the shooting happened. Albert wrote a letter to the student group lamenting the tragedy.
A copy of the Dallas Times Herald was also on display from the day of the shooting - a rare piece of American journalism history. Melancon also offered copies of the infamous “treason” poster distributed in Dallas the day before the shooting, which accused Kennedy of many of the same grievances levied against President Obama today.
Melancon addressed those gathered, recounting Kennedy’s vision for human achievement through space flight, battling of poverty, and his support for civil rights.
“He stood for public service,” Melancon said. “He stood for doing the right thing and helping one’s neighbors. He believed in the American dream. Let us remember President Kennedy in his death, but let us act upon his life.”