Monday, Nov. 25, 1963:
Omahans flocked to churches in record numbers on Sunday. The Rev. Donald F. Haviland, rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, was quoted as saying “It reminded me of Easter and Christmas.” All three services at his church were packed. At St. Cecilia's Cathedral, there was standing room only for the late morning masses. At Dundee Presbyterian about 60 persons were not able to get seats in the nave at the late service. Nearly 1600 attended a joint memorial at Beth Israel Synagogue.
From local eulogies:
The Rev. William Kelligar at St. Cecila Cathedral: “The death of every man is important, but there is an added dimension in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
“We mourn him as our national leader, as a Catholic leader. He enriched our national life with his heroism in way, with the clarity of his intellect, with the warmth and love he offered his family.
“He enriched it with his vitality and humor, with his attention to common folk ... Surely the work of the late President was not unfinished in the sight of God.
“In this day of national grief we pray for a kind of national forgiveness, for a kind of national salvation.”
At Beth Israel Synagogue, Cantor Emil Berkovits intoned the “Molay Rachamim.” This special supplication asked that the spirit of President Kennedy “rest in the celestrial spheres reserved for the perfect and righteous.” It was the first time in an Omaha synagogue that the plea had been made for someone outside the Jewish faith.
The Rev. Dr. Paul Young at Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church: “It is difficult to understand how this ugly shame could come about in a Christian nation. This man (Kennedy) looked to the same Christ Jesus as you and I for help and guidance.
“We must not sorrow just because we lost a leader. Some children lost a loving father, a wife lost a loving husband.
“If he were here today, he would tell us we would best memorialize him by ralling to the support of his successor.”
This report appeared in the Friday evening edition on Nov. 22, 1963:
Stunned disbelief was the general reaction in downtown Omaha as flashes about the shooting for President Kennedy came in.
Omahans who had gathered to watch a television demonstration in a downtown store gasped when the regular program was interrupted by the bulletin....
Val Walter, proprietor of a downtown cafe, said his lunchroom was crowded with noonday patrons when the news came over the radio.
When the first words rang out of the assassination attempt, the usual dining clatter halted.
“They were stunned. No one said a word for several minutes while we listened. It was unbelieveable. No one could even imagine such a thing,” Mr. Walter said.
Reporter Tom Allan filed this report on the day of the Kennedy funeral:
Sidney, Neb. – All Nebraska had the solemnity of a cathedral.
That was the impression of this writer driving across the state Monday from Omaha to this western Nebraska community.
Only in the darkest hours of night or early on a Sunday morning can I recall the highways being so deserted.
Everywhere it was as if the heartbeat of the state had paced itself for the slow staccato of the drums in Washington.
During the final rites the streets were strangely bare in every village, town and city. At times even pedestrians were a rarity.
I cannot recall on any national holiday seeing so many flags.
Famers were conspicuous by their absence from fields and barnyards.
Near Grand Island a sign read: “Slow, Men Working Ahead.”
Many service stations were closed as well as other business houses.
In coffee-stop cafes, everyone talked softly, some in whispers. In one, a waitress tiptoed between the tables. The clang of a dish in the kitchen echoed throughout the crowded café, startling patrons silently watching the televised ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.
In a service station, truck drivers stood silently, watching television.
“My radio went out on my truck and I didn't know about the President until Sunday,” said one quietly.
And then, as if in apology, “I know it sounds strange, but I'd been sleeping in my truck Friday and Saturday night.”
He smiled wanly, “I've driven straight through from Texas.”
Otherwise, there wasn't a smile in 450 miles.
And this report was filed from Omaha:
Business activity was at a virtual standstill in Downtown Omaha Monday morning.
A number of stores were closed. But even in those which had their doors open there was little buying and selling.
The only crowds to be found were grouped around television sets. In one store more than a hundred customers and employees sat on the floor or stood watching the funeral procession.
There was little talk and more than one person could be seen dabbing tear-filled eyes.
Said one clerk: “I don't think there has been a sale rung up all morning. Everyone's just staning here watching.”
Outside, usually crowded streets and sidewalks were almost empty and parking spaces were plentiful.