Jacksonville man remembers JFK

Dan Mackey got to shake Kennedy's hand at a campaign event

By Bruce Hamilton - The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Dan Mackey is a lifelong Jacksonville resident and remembers exactly where he was and what he was doing the day he heard the news President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

He was in a student at Kirby Junior High School and he remembers "being dismissed early.

"All the teachers, men and women, were crying and the students were also upset. Even though I was only in eighth-grade I knew that there could be a nuclear war and I wondered how could this happen," Mackey said.

For 50 years he kept the extra edition of the city's now-defunct afternoon newspaper -- Jacksonville Journal -- published the day JFK died. He also has The Florida Times-Union from the day Kennedy was buried and a special edition of Life Magazine, that came out in 1963, chronicling the life of the man who's administration they called Camelot.

Mackey told Channel 4's Bruce Hamilton he saw JFK and his running mate when they came to town for a campaign event at Hemming Plaza in 1959. "After the speech, my daddy walked up to him and shook his hand. The president leaned down and shook my hand, too," Mackey said. "I'll never forget it."

He also said he'll never forget JFK's inaugural address, in which the new president told the nation to: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." And he wonders aloud how the course of history might have been different had JFK lived.

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