Today, people around the country and around the world are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy, sharing remembrances of the president and of the day that shook the nation.
In Chapel Hill, the campus came to a standstill as news of the President’s death spread. The next day, Daily Tar Heel writers recalled the moment that the word entered the newsroom:
“There were no warning bells on the UPI wire in the newspaper office here, as is customary when big news breaks. The first knowledge was the editor’s cry, ‘What’s this on the wire about the President being killed?’ No one believed he was serious.”
As word spread, students gathered around radios and televisions, abandoning their preparations for the “Beat Dook” parade scheduled for that afternoon. The parade and other campus events were cancelled, including that weekend’s football game against Duke.
Many on campus thought back to the President’s visit to campus two years earlier, and UNC President William C. Friday, who had visited Kennedy at the White House several times, said that he was “stunned” by this “terrible tragedy for our nation.”
That evening, the Di and Phi Joint Senate passed a resolution expressing their grief and sympathy. They sent a telegram to Jacqueline Kennedy and the newly sworn-in President Lyndon Johnson, saying “the Di-Phi Senate wishes to express its profoundest shock and grief at the death of our beloved president. May God keep you.”