The JFK assassination: When America lost its innocence

President John F. Kennedy rides in a motorcade with first lady Jacqueline Kennedy prior to being fatally shot, in Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963.
AP Photo

(CBS News) There are not many of us left who covered the assassination of John Kennedy, but only those of us who were alive before that awful weekend can really know how much it changed America.

We had been a confident nation. We had won World War II. We believed in our leaders. We came to see our presidents as all but invincible.

Because of television, we had come to know John Kennedy and his family more intimately than any of his predecessors.

Then, in a matter of seconds, he was killed by a madman.

As the entire nation watched in horror and shock as the events of that weekend unfolded on television in real time -- the FIRST time that had ever happened -- our national confidence was shaken to the core.

That weekend began one of the most violent decades in our country's history -- more assassinations, Vietnam, the beginning of Watergate -- a time Americans came to question almost everything we had once taken for granted.

As it always had, the nation rebounded from those dark days, but it was never quite the same. It was the weekend America lost its innocence.

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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.