Three-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. salutes his father's casket in...

Three-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. salutes his father's casket in Washington on Nov. 25, 1963, three days after the president was assassinated in Dallas. Widow Jacqueline Kennedy, center, and daughter Caroline Kennedy are accompanied by the late president's brothers Sen. Edward Kennedy, left, and Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Credit: AP, 1963

Here's what Tom Coughlin told of his recollections from 50 years ago today:

“I was a senior in high school at Waterloo Central High School. I remember how it started.

"You know how you start hearing stuff when you’re walking in between classes and stuff and you’re going to your locker and you hear this “shhhh…” Finally, somebody told me and it was the shock of shocks, because at that point in time as a kid, the mystique of John Fitzgerald Kennedy was incredible. It was his rise and when you looked at him and listened to him and so on and so forth, he was going to be the savior. He was.

"It was a little bit unsettling even as a high school senior to think about what does this mean, what’s the significance of it, what are my mother and father thinking, are we all safe, is something going to happen. But it was incredible how the morale of the country went like this, just dropped. And you weren’t interested in really doing much except going home and being with your family and listening to what else was being said on the television and what your mother and father were doing.

"And all you could keep thinking about was Walter Cronkite in those black glasses, taking them off, looking at the clock and telling you, choking up with emotion himself, and telling you that President Kennedy has died.

"We had a basketball game that night and it was cancelled. Football was over, it was basketball season and we had a basketball game and they canceled it. We watched it all on television. The swearing in of (Lyndon) Johnson, it was all on the black and white television.”

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