STEUBENVILLE - Clint Hill's desperate dash to the presidential limousine in Dallas nearly 50 years ago will remain forever in the memories of millions of Americans who saw the newspaper photos and television coverage that documented the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.
Area residents will have the chance to hear the retired Secret Service agent who was assigned to protect first lady Jacqueline Kennedy when Hill and journalist Lisa McCubbin speak Wednesday in the Steubenville High School auditorium during the initial lecture in the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Concert and Lecture Series.
Hill will discuss the time he spent on the first lady's protective detail.
After nearly 50 years of personal silence, Hill collaborated with journalist Lisa McCubbin to write the best-selling book "Mrs. Kennedy and Me" about the four years he was assigned by the Secret Service to protect the first lady.
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. lecture are still available at the Herald-Star and the Jefferson County Chamber office, 630 Market St. Doors to the auditorium will open at 6:30 p.m.
According to Chamber President Sue Hershey, reserved seat tickets are $20 while general admission seats are $15.
"We have tried to make this initial lecture as affordable as possible for the public. There really isn't a bad seat in the high school auditorium. Audience members will have an opportunity to submit questions to Hill at the conclusion of the multi-media presentation that will include humor and drama with a backdrop of rarely seen photos and videos. Our audience will have an insight into the day-to-day workings of the Secret Service with answers to the conspiracy theories. And the audience will be inspired by the powerful message of an unlikely hero," Hershey said.
"This historical lecture is fulfilling the promise we made to the community in May 2011 when we announced a lecture and concert series for the community. The first Stars and Stripes concert was held in July 2011 followed by a second successful concert in July 2012. Those concerts put us in a position to go forward with the inaugural lecture this week. The community support we have realized for this event has been absolutely great and we feel confident we can continue the lecture series with another outstanding lecture in April 2013," stated Hershey.
"We are coming up on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Everyone who was alive on that day will always remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news that the president of the United States had been shot. And we will always remember the news footage of the secret service agent running to the president's limousine and scrambling across the back of the vehicle to reach Jackie Kennedy," Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times Publisher Alex Marshall said.
Ann Koon will always remember the November day when her sixth-grade teacher held a hushed conversation with a school secretary and then turned to her students in a Weston, W.Va., Central Elementary classroom to announce President Kennedy had been shot.
Koon, director of public information at Eastern Gateway Community College later described the day as, "a defining moment" for the rest of her life.
"That significant moment in time was captured by photographers and eyewitness accounts. But Clint Hill was there and witnessed firsthand what was happening. He has obviously gotten past the pain he felt for so many years and has written a book about his Secret Service duties while he was assigned to Jacqueline Kennedy. He was a witness to history. I think the talk will be very moving, especially for those people who remember those days and still have the image of Agent Hill climbing onto the back of the limousine in Dallas to protect Mrs. Kennedy and President Kennedy," declared Koon.
Steubenville resident Anthony Violi will also be attending the lecture Wednesday evening.
Violi was director of the Steubenville High School band that was chosen to represent Ohio at Kennedy's inauguration in 1961
"Kennedy was in the viewing stand," said Violi, adding the band was playing "Beautiful Ohio" as it passed the president's view. "I saluted him as we passed by. I thought it was appropriate. There were also some other politicians from this area there, and they applauded as we passed."
Violi said the day he learned of Kennedy's death was one he would never forget.
"I was leading band practice at the school," he said. "Someone came down and said that Kennedy had been killed. We all just stopped right there. I was crying, and all the students were crying, too. We all had that connection to Kennedy.
Claudia Musick Flowers was a proofreader at the Herald-Star on Nov. 22, 1963.
"I was sitting at my desk at the Steubenville Herald-Star, where I was employed as a proofreader.
"The daily paper had already been put to bed, so I was at a slow period of a normal day."
But that changed, Flowers recalled, when her boss, an editor at the paper, "was running toward us, frantically waving copy off a wire service story and yelling, 'The president has been shot, stop the press. There were gasps from everyone that turned to a deadly silence as we quickly collected our thoughts so we could function and do our jobs," she said.
According to Flowers, who was 19 years old "There were people running back and forth and shouting. It was very tense.
"I proofread the short first copy that said very little other than the president was shot at 12:30 p.m. while riding in a motorcade in Dallas."
"Copy kept coming, each with more details. Typesetters set the story and reset the story many times as new updates came through. Then at 1 p.m., I proofread the heartbreaking news that a priest had announced the death of President Kennedy. Our grief enveloped us as we put the final update into type and sent it to the press. In the short span of 30 minutes, a story had a beginning and an ending that stopped the world. Our hands had held it for those few moments of time, and then it was history," Flowers said.
"The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times to arrange the lecture. Our sponsors include Eastern Gateway Community College, the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Bayberry House Bed and Breakfast, Apollo Pro Cleaning, Piergallini Catering, Steubenville City Schools, Thrifty Car Rental, D'Anniballe and Co. CPAs and McCauslen's Florist" said Hershey.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)