by Dick Kraus
Staff Photographer (retired)

Sunday dawned clear and bright. It was my birthday. I was 31 and I was at the center of the universe and events were spinning out of control.

I anchored a position at curbside along Pennsylvania Ave., about halfway between the White House and the Capitol. I got there early and started shooting preliminary stuff of the spectators, many of whom were wearing black armbands and buttons with Kennedy's picture on it, also rimmed in black. The crowd grew until the sidewalks were filled from curb to building. It was a well behaved crowd, but very somber.

Before the procession reached us there was a murmur from the crowd. People who were listening to the news on transistor radios were saying," Jack Ruby just shot Oswald!!" The news passed from row to row and echoed down the Avenue. And, I thought, "Who the hell is Ruby and who the hell is Oswald?"

It never ceases to amaze me that we journalists, who are on the front lines of daily events, can be so far removed from the happenings related to those events, if they aren't happening in front of us. I hadn't realized it, but I hadn't been watching much tv in the past few days because I was so involved in the events before me. So I didn't know about Lee Harvey Oswald's capture and subsequent shooting. That's not necessarily a good journalistic practice, but, I do fall into that mode on major stories, from time to time because I get so focused.

I didn't have time to find out what that was all about, because I could hear the muffled drums of the cortege approaching my position. A silent honor guard passed in front of me, with those who carried the nation's flag holding their standards low in mourning. The low November sun was backlighting the scene for me and everything stood out in crisp contrast. Next, a gun caisson, drawn by a team of magnificent horses bore the flag draped coffin of our President through the silent streets. With the rim-lit coffin it was impossible not to get dramatic photos of this historic event. Following the caisson was a large riderless horse being led by a soldier. In the horse's stirrups were a pair of riding boots placed in backwards. A symbolic gesture of a fallen warrior. And all the while, the beat of muffled drums, in slow cadence. And then, an open limousine bearing the widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, staring straight ahead. And with her and her two children was the new President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson.

© 1963 Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus 

I could hear spectators sobbing in the crowd around me, and when I turned to photograph their reaction to this moving tableaux, I realized that my eyes were also wet.

A spectator along the funeral procession route, weeps as the President's casket passes in front of her.

© 1963 Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus


Dick Kraus





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