DALLAS (November 22, 2013)--Conspiracy theorists were among those who gathered Friday in Dallas as the city marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
About 400 academics and history buffs attended the annual JFK Lancer conference down the street from Dealey Plaza.
Debora Conway, who founded the JFK Lancer conference nearly two decades ago, compares the study of alternate assassination theories to archaeology, saying "We still dig up bones in the sand."
Attendees watched the official ceremony on screens at the conference hotel.
Also meeting were members of the Coalition on Political Assassinations, whose executive director John Judge planned a ceremony Friday afternoon at Dealey Plaza.
Members wore shirts depicting Kennedy's head shot with a bullet on a half-dollar coin.
DALLAS (November 22, 2013) A crowd of several thousand people braved rain and near-freezing temperatures Friday in Dallas to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
About 5,000 people had tickets for the event.
Blustery conditions during the outdoor commemoration at Dealey Plaza forced organizers to cancel a performance by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and a flyover.
Umbrellas were not allowed for security reasons so those who attended the midday event bundled up in plastic ponchos, and wore heavy coats and hats, as a light rain fell.
Images of JFK and his family were shown on screens in front of the crowd, including scenes from a Kennedy family Christmas.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told the crowd the nation grew up on the day Kennedy died and had to live up to the challenges of the Kennedy’s words and vision.
Rawlings said Dallas has turned "civic heartbreak" into hard work and it is a much different place today.
He called Kennedy an "idealist without illusions who helped build a more just and equal world."
Rawlings' remarks were followed by a moment of silence and a tolling of bells at 12:30 p.m., the time Kennedy was shot on Nov. 22, 1963 as he rode in an open limousine in a motorcade from Love Field to the Dallas Trade Mart, where he was to have delivered a speech to a waiting crowd.
A new marker in Dealey Plaza includes the last paragraph of the speech Kennedy was to have delivered at the Trade Mart.
The speech was to have ended with Kennedy noting that Americans are "watchmen on the walls of world freedom" and therefore must strive to be worthy of that power and try to achieve peace.
Author and historian David McCullough read excerpts of some of Kennedy's most well-known speeches Friday during the ceremony.
He said says Kennedy spoke of things that mattered, including education, service to one's country and the cause of peace on Earth, and he said Kennedy spoke to the point, with confidence and without "stale platitudes."
The observance ended with the Navy choir singing “The Navy Hymn.”
Kennedy served in the U.S. Navy in World War II.