Schieffer: America "never quite the same" after Kennedy was killed

(CBS News) Nearly half a century after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, stories from that day retain their haunting power. Back then, CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer was a young newspaper reporter in Dallas who covered the shooting for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and even gave Lee Harvey Oswald's mother a ride to the police station after she called the publication.

On "CBS This Morning," Schieffer told the co-hosts that covering the shooting changed the way he looked at life and that he'll "never forget it," but it wasn't the career boost that most people imagine.

CBSNews.com special section: The JFK Assassination

"People always said, 'Did it help your career?' Not particularly," Schieffer said. "I was a newspaper reporter in those days, I later went to Vietnam and I guess that was the turning point in my career and led me to television.

"But what changed for me was the impact it had on me personally," he continued. "I think it happened to many Americans. It was such a surreal time. It was so difficult to go through that period."

Schieffer said that reporting on the assassination gave him a "new appreciation for the frailty and preciousness of life."

"From that time on, I always tried to just cram as much as I could into every single day. I still think about those days. It was really a time that America lost its innocence in so many ways," he said.

He also explained that the events had a very "profound" effect on America as a whole and that he believes the country was "never quite the same" after Kennedy was killed.

"Up until that point, we were a very confident country. We believed in our leaders. We believed in our institutions. But then, when this thing happened, it changed the country. We were never quite the same after that."

To find out more about the four days that Schieffer says changed America, tune into his special, "48 Hours Presents: As it Happened: John F. Kennedy, 50 years," Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.

  • Shoshana Davis

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