Fifty years ago today Clay County residents, like the rest of the nation, mourned the loss of President John F. Kennedy. Authorities encouraged Americans to memorialize the slain leader as a healthy way to share our collective grief. The morning after the shooting Moorhead Postmaster Basil Walker enlisted the volunteer help of several letter carriers and installed a memorial in the front window of Moorhead’s new Post Office. They placed a framed photo of the president in the center, bought some flowers and arranged them around it. Curious passersby stopped to observe and comment. Within minutes trucks from floral shops began delivering arrangements sent by local folks to add to the display. According to an article in the January 1964 national postal employees’ magazine, The Postal Record, “Hastily, the men set about placing the additional flowers and then sent out word to the florists thanking the donors for their gifts, but asking the donors to heed the request of the President’s family and give the gift to charity instead of buying a bouquet of flowers. Before the stream of floral tributes had been stopped, however, about 25 tributes had been received, making an impressive show of the town’s regrets over the tragedy.” Local TV, radio and newspapers featured the display that weekend. The Associated Press circulated this photo of the memorial to media around the country, attracting a good deal of national attention. The Postal Recordconcluded “The overflow of flowers was sent to Moorhead’s hospital that the patients might benefit; but the memory of that spontaneous gesture of a sorrowing public stands as one community’s unique way to indicate its sense of grief and loss over the action of one treacherous individual in a nation of loyal subjects.”
November 22, 2013
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