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The Signal's JFK editorial from 1963

Reflections on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination

Posted: November 22, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 22, 2013 2:00 a.m.
In this Nov. 22, 1963 file photo, President John F. Kennedy's motorcade travels through Dallas, Texas. In this Nov. 22, 1963 file photo, President John F. Kennedy's motorcade travels through Dallas, Texas.
In this Nov. 22, 1963 file photo, President John F. Kennedy's motorcade travels through Dallas, Texas.

The Signal didn’t print on Nov. 23, 1963 — the day after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

It was a weekly newspaper then, for a small community.

Its focus was on hyper-local issues — the postmaster retiring, a Masonic Lodge receiving its charter and the schedule of Thanksgiving services at the valley’s houses of worship.

These were the stories covered in the Nov. 28, 1963, edition of what was then called “The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise.”

This paper was delivered on Monday, Nov. 25 — three days after Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

The Signal dedicated space in the upper left-hand of the front page that day to the slain president.

It reported the National Day of Mourning activities, which included the closures of all public and parochial schools in the area, a Bank of America branch in Newhall, post offices and the Newhall Public Library.

That day’s Signal also included the following editorial, reprinted here for the first time since 1963 on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination:

The shock, dismay and sadness which readers of the Newhall-Signal have expressed about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is felt by every American whatever his political affiliation.
It is shared equally by all free people of the world over, as well as by the people in nations which most of us think of as being in the enemy camp.

For John Kennedy, by virtue of being the President of the United States of America, was also the leader of an ideological hemisphere which extends from one end of the globe to the other.

He is recognized and mourned by free people everywhere as the symbol of freedom, a symbol of what America stands for.

And his death has also had a profound effect on the governments of people behind the Iron Curtain, who feel much as a great general does when suddenly a worthy adversary against whom he is pitted in battle has suddenly been struck down by cowardly means.

Had John F. Kennedy been less vigorous than he was, the effect of his death might have had somewhat less impact on all of us than it did.

He was a man in the prime of his life, however, a man of strength physically and morally.

Our first reaction, aside from shock, was one of anger.

We were quick to condemn the City of Dallas, Texas, which happened also to have been the scene of some uncivilized attacks on Adlai Stevenson recently.

We were quick to condemn racial hate mongers, who we first assumed to be responsible for the President’s death.

We were quick to condemn our nation for breeding conditions which made assassination possible.

Then, of course, subsequent events proved once again that initial reactions are seldom worth the hot air they are made of.

One can hardly blame a whole city for the act of one man, probably a psychopath at that, who came from God knows where to commit an infamous act within the city’s boundaries.

Nor can one blame racists for the act of an apparent sympathizer of Fidel Castro and Cuba.

Let’s blame racists only for the acts they do, not what we assume they do, Nor, in the last analysis, can we blame our nation for any violent act of this sort, for the very conditions which makes it possible for an assassin to strike are also the conditions which make us strong and free.

Would we rather that the President were alive and riding through the streets of Dallas in a bulletproof car.
Perish the thought.

Better that he should have died upholding the principles of the American Way — a free man, within arm’s reach or, sadly, bullet’s range, of the people he loved and represented and was not afraid to face.

Like Abraham Lincoln, who met the same end, John F. Kennedy did not live nor die in vain.

His spirit continues to walk among us and support us all.

-- Davis Bynum


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