FW Man Recalls Close Encounter With JFK On Day The President Was Shot (VIDEO)

By Jeff Neumeyer

November 20, 2013 Updated Nov 22, 2013 at 11:00 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) --- Remembering a terrible moment in American history that hit too close to home.

Fort Wayne resident Don Carrigan saw John F. Kennedy in person the day he was assassinated 50 years ago this week.

It was more a source of pain than pride.

Carrigan has lived here more than 40 years, but on November 22, 1963, he was in his hometown of Fort Worth and watched President Kennedy pass by in a motorcade, shortly before he was shot and killed.

It's an event that marked his life more than he could have ever imagined.

That fateful day, John and Jackie Kennedy rode through the streets of Fort Worth and Dallas, where crowds cheered them on.

Don Carrigan and his Fort Worth high school classmates lined the highway.

Carrigan made an observation as the motorcade rolled by.

" To be the youngest President in history, he had stress lines and he had grey hairs that he shouldn't have had at that age," Carrigan said.

He says as the students waited along the motorcade route, he and others in his group made insensitive remarks about the President, viewed with some suspicion in the Deep South, because he favored the advancement of civil rights.

The hurtful words came back to haunt Carrigan, when an hour later back at school, the announcement came that the President had been shot in the head and was gone.

" Every crass comment I had made in the lunchroom, while walking there and back, all came back and it hit me so hard."

The feelings of sorrow and shame, so overpowering for Carrigan, that years later he penned a letter summarizing his thoughts from that day.

Indeed, Carrigan claims he always revered Kennedy as a great American hero.

" It was my pleasure and my privilege, to walk two miles, stand for thirty minutes awaiting just a short look at this great man, President of the United States of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy," Carrigan wrote.

The emotions still run high for a man who now gives his time to several community causes and has been changed forever.

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