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Four-State Area Remebers JFK, 50 Years After the Assassination

"It was something that had shocked everyone from children all the way up to our grandparents. And a lot of people couldn't understand the reason they would want to assassinate this war hero, a person that had just tried to turn the nation around," said Tolbert.
 
HAGERSTOWN, Md. - A day that changed a generation, and people across the four state area still remember where they were. They remember the exact moment when they learned about President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's assassination.

And 50 years later, some people recall memories like it was yesterday.

"It was the last period of the day, it was a math class, with no warning the public address system came on," said Bonnie Shockey of Greencastle, Pennsylvania.  

"It seemed like everybody was in a daze, and there was this very somber feeling. Well, I was only four years old so that was something very unusal for me. I can remember my father particularly just being shocked, my mother too, that this could even happen," said Bruce Poole of Hagerstown, Maryland. 

The death of President Kennedy affected the nation and the four state area.

Bruce poole, former member of the Maryland House of Delegates is now an attorney in Hagerstown. He says his interest in politics is partly because of JFK.

"I really admired President Kennedy as well. There was a passion and an enthusiasm about him, an optimism for America and its role that I just found really, really compelling," said Poole.

And Poole said his connection to politics gave him a real insight into the Kennedy family. He's friends with President Kennedy's nephew, Mark Shriver.

Other four state residents, and local members of the NAACP have said it President Kennedy's death was a tragedy, but it was also a catalyst for civil rights.

"I think his death was a signal that we weren't where we should be as far as race relations were concerned," said James Tolbert.

And Tolbert, Emeritus President of the West Virginia chapter of the NAACP, said it was the television coverage that really created a profound effect on how Americans reacted.

"It was something that had shocked everyone from children all the way up to our grandparents. And a lot of people couldn't understand the reason they would want to assassinate this war hero, a person that had just tried to turn the nation around," said Tolbert.

The constant stream of news from that time is now on display at the Allison-Antrim Museum in Greencastle, and Bonnie Shockie is doing what she knows best: collecting memorabilia for people around the area to see at the museum. She says it's the only exhibit in the area without having to go to Washington.

"Especially on the 50th anniversary, it was something that we needed to do for the community," said Shockey.

Community members like Patrick Burns, who has spent hours upon hours soaking up all of the original newspapers from Dallas, magazine clippings and photos, and a three-hour history channel documentary that's played on repeat.

"I've always had a strong interest in history, but there's something about this family that gave so much to politics of America, to the betterment of America. They cared," said Patrick Burns of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. 

John F. Kennedy's assassination was a moment that's been compared to events like Pearl Harbor and September 11, 2001.

Generation changing moments.

And some people around the four state area say it changed history, and left the nation wondering what could have been.
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