(NEWS CENTER) -- Most people alive 50 years ago remember where they were when President Kennedy was shot. We talked with Mainers who have strong recollections, including one who was in the White House that day, and another who was in Dallas.
Former Sen. George Mitchell was working for Sen. Ed Muskie in Washington in November of 1963. Mitchell says "I recall very clearly that day I had my lunch, went for my walk, and when I walked back into the office the receptionist, her name was Carol, she was from Calais, was at her desk crying. and I said, 'Carol what's wrong?' and she's the one who told me what had happened, and of course there was a lot of turmoil in the office.
"I lived then near the U.S. Capitol, and I can remember to this moment the very long lines all through the night, hundreds of thousands of people, wanting to walk through the Capitol rotunda to pay their respects to President Kennedy. I joined that line, spent a long time in line, with many Americans, mourning the loss of someone who was admired and respected."
Portland Attorney Harold Pachios was working at the Peace Corps under the President's brother-in-law Sargent Shriver. After the shooting in Dallas, he watched the flag being lowered at the White House. Then Shriver's secretary asked for a favor.
"She said 'Sarge is over at the White House making plans for the funeral.' And he was in charge of it, and she said 'he wants to have a black tie. Can you go home and get your black-tie, we'll clear you at the northwest gate, and bring it to him.'"
This would be the first time Pachios set foot in the White House. He remained in the office where Shriver, military oficers and protocol experts were planning the president's funeral. Pachios recalls the debate over how world leaders would get to the church.
"And so the Colonel said, 'you're going to have all these cars backed up, there'll be a traffic jam-- the first car'll be arriving at St. Matthews Church, and there will still be chiefs of state back in the White House driveway in limousines. They gotta walk.' And Shriver said 'We can't do that. If they can get Jack the way they did today, they can get Buffalo Bill walking down the street. Everybody's gonna have to be in a car.'"
In the end, many dignitaries walked. Pachios says "The caisson came from the White House to St. Matthew's and I actually walked down behind the people walking to St. Matthew's. And of course-- the sound everybody's heard in these documentaries of the hoofbeats pounding in dead silence. Tens of thousands of people lining the street-- dead silence. You could hear a pin drop except for the wheels, of the caisson, in the hooves of the horses. Incredible."
Sen. Angus King was a student at Dartmouth College. He was working at the radio station when the first bulletin from Dallas came in. King recalls "A buddy of mine was on the air at the time, I knocked on the window and put the thing and said we need to do... So I literally went on the air, 'we interrupt this program to bring you an important news bulletin.' I read the bulletin, and about five minutes later all the upperclassmen came in, seniors who ran the radio station, saying 'Who the hell are you? A sophomore? What are you doing interrupting a program?' I said 'Look guys, I may be a sophomore, but I know news when I see it!'"
Musician Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary found himself uncomfortably close to the scene of the crime. "Mary Travers, Dick Kniss our bass player and I were in a car driving to Dallas, Texas to do a concert the following night. When over the radio came this horrendous news, and you know, you kept waiting for it to go away. I mean it was a real case of denial, you know, first he's taken to the hospital and you think, well maybe it's a flesh wound. Then to arrive in Dallas, check into the hotel and of course the town is a total lockdown-- totally stunned, as we were. And we met Peter in the hotel, and Mary just said 'I gotta get out of here, I gotta get out of this town.'"
Stookey and the rest of the group left Dallas, but would return. He says they found music and communication can help with the healing process.
"We came back to Dallas maybe a year and a half later to do a concert that was just full of memories, as many of the concerts that Peter and I do now in the absence of Mary, are filled with significant grief. But we speak to it, and when you speak to it it doesn't last. It's actually a grief that turns into once again that hopefulness that made it so attractive to begin with."