AT PRESENT, in the United States, arrangements are being finalised to commemorate the 50th anniversary of one of the most historic events in recent modern history - an event which to this very day continues to reverberate through the American subconscious: the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy.
The old saying goes that everyone knows where they were when they were first told of Kennedy’s death.
Indeed, the former President’s death was particularly poignant for Irish people who just a few short months before had warmly greeted him and his wife, Jacqueline, when they travelled to Ireland to visit the birthplace of his ancestors.
Just days after the assassination in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, Derry people of all ages queued in their hundreds to sign the Book of Condolences for the dead president at the city’s Guildhall.
Even during spells of heavy rain, the numbers waiting their turn seldom diminished and, by 5pm, when the book was scheduled to close for the day, well in excess of 2,000 people had written their signature of sympathy.
There were old and young in the procession to the book, which was located on a table near the main Guildhall entrance. Two US Navymen stood sentinel between framed photographs, draped in black, of the murdered President and his family.
Prayers were offered in every church of denomination on Sunday while there was a special service of remembrance at Ebrington Presbyterian Church. There were also Requiem Masses in all the Catholic churches in the city.
About 120 US Navy officers, ratings and their wives attended the united Protestant service in Ebrington church. The base executive, Commander E.H. Friez, represented the commander, Captain RG Merritt.
The flag at the US naval base at Clooney flew at half mast for thirty days.
A spokesman at the base said they were overwhelmed at the response of the citizens of Derry and “deeply appreciated it.”