Reverent Memorials Mark JFK 50th Anniversary - New York News

Reverent Memorials Mark JFK 50th Anniversary

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(FOX 11 / AP) A half dozen Irish soldiers toting guns with brilliantly polished bayonets formed a guard of honor outside the U.S. Embassy in Dublin as the U.S. flag was lowered to half-staff in one of several solemn ceremonies planned Friday to mark 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.

More than a dozen retired Irish army officers who, as teenage cadets, had formed an honor guard at Kennedy's graveside in November 1963, gathered in the front garden of the embassy in the heart of the Irish capital to remember the first Irish American to become leader of the free world.

Together with Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore and embassy staff, they observed a minute's silence and lay two wreaths from the Irish and American governments in memory of JFK.

Similar events were planned for Boston, Washington, and in Dallas. That city will mark the day with a solemn ceremony in Dealey Plaza, through which the president's motorcade passed when shots rang out on Nov. 22, 1963.

Shortly after sunrise, with the eternal flame flickering in the early morning light, Attorney General Eric Holder paid his respects at Kennedy's grave at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

In Dublin, an Irish army commander at the embassy drew a sword and held it aloft as a lone trumpeter played "The Last Post," the traditional British salute to war dead. A bagpiper played laments including "Amazing Grace." A U.S. Marine raised the flag again as the bugler sounded an upbeat "Reveille."

All the while, busy Dublin traffic continued to pass by outside the iron-fenced embassy. The day was crisp, windless, with trees full of autumn leaves and a cloudless blue sky, the sun blindingly low on the horizon.

The former Irish army cadets invited by Jacqueline Kennedy to serve as the graveside honor guard described the awe - and fear - they experienced as they traveled to the United States 50 years earlier.

"We were young guys, all pretty much 18. We had no passports, no visas. None of us had flown before," said Retired Col Brian O'Reilly, 68. "We were told on the Saturday night we were wanted for the funeral. The next day we were on the plane with our own president (Eamon de Valera) heading for Washington."

Retired Commandant Leo Quinlan said he had felt mixed emotions.

"Beside the grave I could see (Ethiopia Emperor) Haile Selassie, (French President) Charles de Gaulle, King Baudouin (of Belgium), (Britain's) Prince Philip. So you had all that excitement on the one hand," said Quinlan, 68. "And then on the other you had the sadness everywhere, people crying in the streets, and in the Washington shop windows they displayed shrines to Kennedy with candles burning. You could never forget any of that."

Gilmore paid tribute to JFK's legacy and a fiddler, Frankie Gavin, who performed for Kennedy during his visit to the western Irish city of Galway on June 29, 1963, performed a lament and a jig. Gavin was just 6 when his family's band performed as the Kennedy motorcade passed through Galway.

Gavin, who is credited by Guinness as the world's fastest fiddler, played only one verse of the "Lament for Oliver Goldsmith" because, he said, he could feel himself tearing up.

"There's a sense of his (JFK's) presence here today. . The moment was getting to me."

 

From Hal Eisner:

On this 50th aniversary of the JFK assassination there is one man I know pretty well dealing with two awful memories… Rabbi Hillel Silverman. Silverman, now 89, has three grown kids including well-known actor Jonathan Silverman. When I was a kid Hillel Silverman was my Rabbi at Shearith Israel Synagogue in Dallas. He was also Jack Ruby's. Yes, Ruby and I went to the same synagogue though we never knew each other.

Silverman, who says, "I can't believe it's been 50 years. It's like a bad memory," is now 89 years old. He tells me he clearly remembers the Friday he and his wife waited at the Dallas Trade Center for President and Mrs. Kennedy to arrive for a major luncheon. He was one of 500 clergy, community leaders and others invited to attend. He can't forget the announcement that the lunch was suddenly cancelled. The words that the President was shot and taken to nearby Parkland Hospital. The Rabbi and his wife took the four minute drive to Parkland Hospital, but it was already too late. The President was dead.

That Friday night the normal weekly Shabbat service became a memorial for the dead President. A thousand people were there. One of them was Jack Ruby.

Two days later, on Sunday, Silverman heard that Ruby – whose real name was Jack Rubenstein – killed Lee Harvey Oswald. It was incomprehensible. In the months that followed, until he became Rabbi of a Beverly Hills synagogue, he made routine visits a couple of times a week to Ruby's cell.

The Rabbi says Ruby was emphatic that he acted alone. Says Silverman, "he told me there was no conspiracy. He was not connected with anybody. He just, in a fit of rage, pulled the trigger." Silverman also says Ruby never displayed any sense of regret. Why did he kill Oswald? Silverman says Ruby told him "for the American people!" And, he didn't want Jackie have to come back to Dallas for a trial.

Jack Ruby and I both went to Silverman's Synagogue. So, did Abraham Zapruder. He was the Dallas manufacturer who went to the motorcade route and took the assassination's most famous film.

Today the Rabbi remembers. So, does the world.

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