Inside Kennedy reunion ahead of 50th anniversary of assassination

President Kennedy's family, friends, and colleagues reunited Saturday in Washington.

Just days ago at the Washington home of Nancy Dutton, who campaigned for John Kennedy, a unique gathering got under way - a reunion, dubbed a "Return to Camelot," was a meeting like no other for those who knew, worked with, even loved President Kennedy.

Special Section: The JFK Assassination

Kathleen Kennedy said at the event, "I'm the oldest of all the grandchildren, so I was lucky at least to see what a difference he was making in the country."

Kathleen Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy's daughter, said, "Each night we would pray around the bed that Jack would be the best president ever and my father would be the best attorney general ever."

Ted Kennedy Jr. said, "Hardly a day goes by where I don't meet somebody who tells me that my Uncle Jack inspired them."

He continued, "Look at the people around this room. They really believed that the government could do great things. And I think people really miss that now."

For Ben Bradlee, the legendary editor of The Washington Post, the day his good friend was assassinated is embedded in memory. He said, "Well, I mean, I remember everything about him. I think of him all the time. All the time."

"My crowd remembers that day like part of the Bible," he said.

Time heals wounds. The gathering found the daughters of sworn enemies now at peace -- Lyndon B. Johnson's daughter Lynda and Kathleen Kennedy.

Lynda Johnson said, "The Kennedys were wonderful friends of ours and my parent loved President and Mrs. Kennedy."

For these people, on this special night, the moment remains real, the dark day in Dallas, their world, and ours, changed with a gunshot. Kathleen Kennedy said, "It's sad for me and it is really sad for the country. It was a lot of loss."

"Face the Nation" host and CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer -- broadcasting live from Dealey Plaza in Dallas -- said on "CBS This Morning": "It always kind of takes your breath away when you come back here. I came down to Dallas last week and the first time I kind of approached the School Book Depository ... but it's just hard to believe that all of this happened in one day. I mean, it was this young, vibrant active president and you've got this unbelievably friendly welcome here and then, just in a matter of seconds, it was all over. It was a day that changed America."

Turning to the day's events, CBS This Morning co-host Norah O'Donnell pointed out that the Kennedy children were not told that their father had been assassinated until Jackie Kennedy could tell them.

Schieffer said, "It's the little things like that. How do you tell the children at a time like this? And there were so many of those moments. And yet hanging over this … was this feeling of no one knew what this meant. We didn't know if it was the beginning of World War III. They had closed off the borders with Mexico. … You saw this tragedy like we had never seen unfolding before us. Television had never covered something like this that day and then hanging over that tragedy we were seeing before our eyes, are we about to go to war and that was what was so terrifying? It's a day unlike any day that I think anyone was alive that day had ever experienced and not until 9/11 did we -- any of us -- ever feel the same."

As for Kennedy himself, Schieffer said his legacy will always be of a president who inspired people. Schieffer said, "He inspired intellectuals. He inspired people who had not shown much interest in government to come and do something in government. I mean, people really took him at his word when he said 'Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,' and it just brought a new sense of energy to the country, and the creation of the Peace Corps came about.

"When you look at John Kennedy's legislative record, it was fairly thin," he added." It would be left to Lyndon Johnson to pass the monumental Civil Rights bills -- the great pieces of legislation of that era, but it was the inspiration that Kennedy brought to the country, I think, and I think really as you look back on it, that will be his legacy."

You can watch Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation" Sunday. His guests will include Clint Hill, the Secret Service agent seen frantically climbing onto the limousine in the moments after the shooting.

Also: CBSNews.com will stream CBS News' historic broadcast coverage of President John F. Kennedy's assassination to mark the anniversary. The online stream will begin at 1:38 p.m. ET on Friday, and feature the minute-by-minute CBS News broadcasts in real time as they were delivered during the four-day period following the assassination.

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