Big week on JFK on tap

Fifty years ago this month, the world was stunned by a single act of violence on a Dallas street.

Three shots rang out from the Texas School Book Depository. Two of them hit the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy. He probably died instantly at the impact of the second shot that hit him.

It was a half-century ago that the nation went into prolonged mourning over its profound loss.

PBS is taking us back through that dark period in the next few days as the nation commemorates the anniversary of one of the 20th century’s most heinous crimes.

“JFK: American Experience” airs Monday at 8 p.m. on Panhandle PBS. It’s the first of a two-part series chronicling the life of John Kennedy. The first part looks at his stunning rise to power in Washington and his election as president in 1960 over then-Vice President Richard Nixon. Kennedy’s victory was razor thin: Of the 68 million votes cast that year, JFK won with just a 117,000-vote margin.

Part Two of the American Experience documentary examines Kennedy’s successes and triumphs as president and looks at his assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.

Then, on Wednesday night, beginning at 8, NOVA broadcasts “Cold Case JFK,” and examines the murder with today’s state-of-the-art forensic techniques.

At 9 p.m. Wednesday, the CBS News reporting of JFK’s shooting and death is examined in detail in “JFK: One Central Standard Time.” Those of us who are old enough to remember no doubt can recall the famous words of CBS correspondent Walter Cronkite, who told us of the “bulleting, apparently official … ” that the president was dead.

These are important programs, as they will tell us much of how we have arrived at this point in our nation’s journey.

It hasn’t always been a joyful ride. PBS is going to take us through some pain. It’s worth feeling it all over again.

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