Photos help tell the story of JFK's legacy


It was a different time. The country had the youngest president and first family in its history.
Americans liked that image and those pictures that so captivated America at the time still haunt the country 50 years later.

Seems hard to believe 50 years have passed since November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. And how many memories we have. It all seems to come down to pictures.

November 22, 1963 still evokes emotional reactions even today. We have seen all the pictures of the cheering crowds straining to see Jack and Jackie, but it didn't start that way.

Jacques Lowe the family's personal photographer, captured the frustrating early days of the campaign when no one knew who they were. In 1958 he was assigned to get a portrait of the candidate and encountered a tired man who did not want to cooperate.

The story is relayed at the Newseum in Washington, DC, which has an exhibition dedicated to the Kennedys - and how the news organizations at the time covered the event of his assassination.

"Fortunately Mrs. Kennedy brings Caroline down. It's like the difference between midnight and dawn here in his face," Patty Rhule, Senior Manager of the Newseum in Washington, DC, observed.

America liked the results and wanted to see more and Americans are still lining up at the Newseum to seem them 50 years later.

"If you could have gone to central casting and asked to pick the best person for a President and the best person for a First Lady and have two adorable children, I don't think you could have found a better family than they made," Rhule added.

Indianapolis man remembers

"It just gave you chills!" Bill Craft exclaimed. His pictures all laid out on his dining room table in Indianapolis are not professional but they are his. It was November 16, 1963. He was 21 years old serving on the USS Observation Island when President Kennedy choppered aboard off the coast of Florida in the Atlantic missile Range.

"Everyone was taking pictures like crazy," Craft remembered - because he was doing the same thing.

Kennedy had come to witness a test launch. "Here is a picture of him looking through the binoculars watching it go," Craft points out.

Did it make a difference that it was a Navy guy? "It did to me," Craft responded with a chuckle.

Six days later the crew would get the word that the commander in chief was dead. That knowledge is still pretty tough to take for Craft.

"Flash from Dallas. Catholic priests who were with the President say he President is dead. The President died 1 o'clock central standard time today here in Dallas," said the report playing on a television at the Newseum.

"It was hard to believe and today you know it's still hard to believe. The President of the United States was assassinated," he said in resigned disbelief.

It was the first time America had such intimate access to a president and the first family in life and in death. It's all there. In pictures.

Many of the pictures you just saw are from the Capturing Camelot display, at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Bill Craft says he plans to will his pictures to his children.