BOSTON (AP) — Fifty years ago, Barbara Mahoney was teaching second grade in Hull when her principal interrupted class to announce President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. After she passed the terrible news on to her students, she was left to focus on her own trauma.
"It was devastating — it was surreal," Mahoney, 76, recalled.
Like Kennedy, Mahoney was an Irish-American from Massachusetts, and she had volunteered for his presidential campaign.
"We thought he was wonderful," she said. "He was one of us."
Those feelings came flooding back Friday for Mahoney and hundreds of others who paid their respects to the slain president at the JFK Library and Museum in Boston and at other events around the state.
In the afternoon, about 750 people gathered in the museum's auditorium and an overflow room to watch a video feed of a concert in the building's pavilion, which also was streamed online.
The capacity crowd watched in silence as the U.S. Naval Academy Women's Glee Club sang patriotic songs and hymns, including selections from the president's 1963 state funeral. Also performing were Boston-born singer-songwriter James Taylor and saxophonist Paul Winter, whose Paul Winter Sextet was the first jazz group to play at the White House.
The performances were interspersed with selections from Kennedy's most famous speeches, read by Gov. Deval Patrick, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and former NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund director-counsel Elaine Jones.
Marco Polo Smigliani, 65, of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., said it was a fitting tribute to the slain president.
"Unfortunately we have to be here, but I don't think we can do enough to remember a leader like John F. Kennedy," he said.