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Fifty years after his assassination, the glamorous US president John F. Kennedy continues to fascinate.
His life and death are the focus of an exhibition at Washington’s museum of news and journalism – the Newseum.
Why is JFK still so strong in the public consciousness, not just in the United States but also worldwide? The Newseum’s curator, Carrie Christoffersen, says: “He was an incredibly vibrant leader, who was working to bring the nation into a new generation, to really lead for a new generation.”
There is a link between the day of November 22 1963 – the day the president was killed by a sniper’s bullet in Dallas, Texas – and another terrible and memorable day – September 11 2001.
That is because the negatives of 40,000 pictures taken by Kennedy’s personal photographer, Jacques Lowe, were stored in a fireproof safe at New York’s World Trade Center and had to be painstakingly remade.
Indira Williams Babic, Senior Manager of Visual Resources at the Newseum, told euronews: “The negatives were lost during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And so, through digital technology, the Newseum has been able to restore those images from the contact sheets to make this exhibition possible.”
Many exhibits are on show for the first time, like the wallet and clothing of the man who was accused of the assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald, and a home movie camera used by eyewitness Abraham Zapruder and which by chance captured the moment of death.
Another part of the exhibition – ‘Three Shots Were Fired’ – is devoted to the media and their handling of what became the first breaking news event on television in the US and worldwide.
The killing was followed by four days of non-stop TV coverage in the US, something that did not happen again until the 9/11 attacks.
Our Washington correspondent Stefan Grobe concludes: “The exhibition recalls Kennedy the man and the myth and his legacy. And of course, everybody remembering the moment when he or she learned about the shots fired in Dallas. It was the beginning of a new era: the first breaking news event on television.”