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Aldermen urge churches to ring their bells for JFK

Church bells will ring across Chicago at 1 p.m. on Nov. 22 — and schools will designate a moment of silence — to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The City Council’s Finance Committee approved the resolution on Tuesday, virtually guaranteeing that an event seared in the memories of those Chicagoans who lived through the horrifying events of Nov. 22, 1963 will be remembered by — or at least discussed with — those too young to remember. Finance Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) introduced the resolution and initially talked about church bells tolling at 12:30 p.m., when Kennedy was shot by assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. The time was subsequently changed to 1 p.m. to mark the hour of Kennedy’s death.

“It would be more appropriate at the hour of his demise. Rather than commemorate the violent act of an assassin, why not commemorate the going home to God of a great American President?” Burke said.

Burke is the City Council’s resident historian. He has written books about Chicago history and has a deep appreciation of history at all levels. The alderman said he hopes the ringing of church bells across the city and the moment of silence in schools will remind Chicagoans for whom Sept. 11, 2001 was a searing memory “what a traumatic event that was” in the nation’s history to see a fourth president “fall victim” to an assassin’s bullet.

“Those of us who were alive then all remember where we were and who we were with and what a tragedy that was for the nation,” Burke said. “But, a whole generation of Americans now has grown up without the knowledge that we shared that day. So, I would like to think that, in schools around the city and in churches around the city, the tolling of bells and the moment of silence that hopefully can occur would remind a whole new generation of people about President John F. Kennedy and what he meant to the nation.”