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Brokaw: ‘One Day in America’ returns to Nat Geo with a look at Nov. 22, 1963

By Francine Brokaw - Special to the Daily Herald | Nov 15, 2023

Courtesy photo

All three episodes of the special National Geographic series "JFK: One Day in America" are streaming on Hulu and Disney+.

Nov. 22, 1963 — nearly 60 years ago, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. It was a day that was unique in the history of the country because of a fairly new-fangled invention called the TV. The events of that day and the following days were seen live around the world. Now, 60 years later, the assassination and its aftermath are recounted by some of the survivors who were in the thick of the events. “JFK: One Day in America” is described in detail by Secret Service agents who were on the job, newsmen and women who were at the locations, and bystanders.

This is a three-part series focusing on the actual shooting and the events in Parkland Hospital, the search for and arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, and the preparations and funeral of the president. In the last 60 years, countless books and films have been published and produced about the assassination. This project looks back at that time with those who were actually there. They reveal their thoughts, actions and emotions that affected them during the hours and days that shook the country to its core, as well as effected the entire world.

Imagine remembering seeing Oswald walking down the street. Imagine sitting with Jacqueline Kennedy in the hearse taking the coffin to the airport for the flight back to Washington. Imagine having been an associate of Oswald and driven him to his job on the day of the assassination. Imagine being a Secret Service agent who had to continue working through the upheaval of the events in Dallas. The people highlighted in this three-part documentary experienced those circumstances and emotions. They describe their actions and feelings of the day in a way that is emotional to watch. Sixty years later, they still get choked up discussing that dreadful day.

Secret Service agents Clint Hill and Paul Landis were with the Kennedys and openly talk about the assassination. Landis has a new book out in which he reveals new details about that day. (This is not part of the documentary, however). Hill describes how he checked the contents of the casket before allowing Jacqueline to look inside after she requested one last look at her slain husband.

There are several images and films of the events that have not been seen before, or at lease are not prevalent in shows about Nov. 22, 1963.

Yes, for those of us who were alive or have studied the event at length, very little new content is revealed. However, even so, this is a fascinating look at an important time in the history of the country. The interesting aspect of this documentary is the fact that the stories are told by those people who were there. Very few witnesses are alive, and these people have some great memories and thoughts on the time.

On a side note, presidential candidate and nephew of President Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., has said openly that he is confident the CIA played a part in the assassination. Historian and author Mark Shaw has written about how the mafia was also involved. Landis’ book looks at the probability of a second shooter. None of this is included in the documentary; however, reliving that painful time in America’s history from those who were there and witnessed it all makes this a show worth watching for those who remember that time, for those who have studied that time and for youngsters who know nothing about it.

This documentary is solely about the stories, memories and emotions felt by those who were there. It is a first-person account looking back into history.

All three episodes premiered Nov. 5 on National Geographic and are available to stream on Hulu and Disney+.


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