The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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November 22, 2013

Clintonians share their memories of Nov. 22, 1963

CLINTON — "Kennedy Envisions An Historic New Era Ahead"

Strung together over the top of the Clinton Herald's page 1A on Nov. 21, 1963, that headline's seven words drew readers into a story detailing President John F. Kennedy's planned two-day, five-city visit to Texas and his administration's New Frontier scientific program.

In a speech prepared for the dedication of the Aerospace Medical Center at Brooks Air Force Base, Kennedy in that day's story said the New Frontier slogan that helped him win the 1960 presidential race was not the exclusive property of either Democrats or Republicans.

"It refers instead," he said, "to this nation's position in history today — to the fact that we stand on the edge of a new era filled with both crises and opportunities, an era to be characterized by both grim challenges and historic achievements."

Just 24 hours later, the Herald's banner headline — Pres. Kennedy Assassinated — announced the death of the 35th president, slain by a bullet to the head while traveling by motorcade in Dallas. The 46-year-old Kennedy lived about an hour after he was shot; he died at Dallas' Parkland Hospital around 1 p.m. that day.

Clinton residents were shocked as they learned of the events unfolding that afternoon — the shooting, the death and the arrest of suspected sniper Lee Harvey Oswald.

Bob Soesbe of Clinton, who is an active member of the Clinton County Historical Society, easily recalls everything from that day — where he was when he heard of the shooting and the news of the death, and even how the weather changed from a sunny morning to an overcast afternoon.

A 37-year-old telephone company employee at the time, Soesbe said his wife, Ethel, had called him at work around 12:30 p.m. to tell him the news. He was on a service call at a Clinton home when the news came over the TV there that Kennedy had died. It left him unable to work, shocked and full of disbelief.

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