TODAY

TODAY   |  November 21, 2013

Looking back at JFK, the first modern president

NBC’s Lester Holt visits the scene of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas for a look back at JFK’s crusades, accomplishments and unique charm as the first  TV president.”

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have had a drug or alcohol problem may be more likely to misuse lyrica . with less fibromyalgia pain, i'm feeling better with lyrica . ask your doctor about lyrica today. more of our look at the assassination of jfk 50 years later.

>> so much left to achieve, more on the infamous grassy knoll . good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning to you. those who were here that day will tell you when the presidential motorcade rolled through this plaza there was so much enthusiasm. this was a young, handsome, engaging, witty and courageous president seen this way in this country and also around the world.

>> and so my fellow americans --

>> i take pride in the lyrics.

>> it made a huge impression. the whole package a kind of burst of celebrity sunshine in the white house .

>> reporter: at 43, john f. kennedy was the youngest president elected, succeeding the oldest, dwight eisenhower . he was a new kind of candidate for a changing america.

>> youth, extraordinary good looks, charm, wit. fv is a hot medium and it helps if you are cool. and jfk was cool.

>> we discuss tonight domestic issues.

>> reporter: he pressed in a rival with richard nixon .

>> he had a tan and was well rested. nixon looked tired and sick and the contrast helped nixon and hurt kennedy .

>> a quiet politician who was smart enough able enough to get himself elected president.

>> ask not what your country can do for you. ask what you can do for your country .

>> the first time we looked at politics, there they were and we liked what we saw.

>> kennedy became the first television president embracing its power.

>> when jackie was away, he'd invite the photographers in. they got unbelievable pictures of little john crawling out from under the desk.

>> reporter: moments that endeared the first family to an american public in an area that became known as camelot.

>> they were as close as we will ever get to royalty.

>> all of the assurance of a presence which would make any man a star except men like that don't have jacqueline kennedy as their wife and she was gorgeous and he was as engaging as he was compelling.

>> the way he spoke t. peaches were poet ec.

>> we choose to go to the poll in this debate and do the other things. not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

>> jfk was masterful at press conferences. he let a tease.

>> he liked reports.

>> as a fallen member of the house, i would feel it should be left to the members of the house of representatives .

>> quick wit, humor were so delicious.

>> president kennedy has just signed a proclamation authorizing an arms quarantine against cuba.

>> reporter: 1963 america was on the heels of the cuban missile crisis a year earlier, his spooechd speech calling for an end to the war was bold.

>> we inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air.

>> reporter: it was also a country consumed by race.

>> once kennedy came on the scene, he represented the future.

>> reporter: jfk 's equally bold stance on desegregation helped pave the way for the civil rights act of 1964 .

>> who among us would be content and have the color of his skin change and stand in his place?

>> there was a great mode of optimism and progress in 1963 . things looked pretty good then bang.

>> i was in the motorcade when shots were fired. we heard one shot. we all said, what was that? was that a shot? then there were two more close together. bang. bang. leak that. i said, those are shots. stop the bus.

>> nbc's book macneil on the line now. president kennedy died at approximately 100 central standard time , which is about 35 minutes ago.

>> after being so shot at --

>> the inconceivable became conceivable at that moment.

>> precisely because he was a president for a brief time, because he was killed, we have a shrine and a myth of resolve.

>> reporter: today here in dallas, volunteers will fan out on a day of service inspired by jfk 's inauguration speech in which he encouraged americans to ask what they can do for their country. matt, savannah, we'll send it back to you.

>> we want to mention lester will have more from dallas tomorrow. we will be joined by tom brokaw and dan rather to reflect on the day that everything changed. just