Journalist Robert D. Raiford remembers covering JFK funeral - | WBTV Charlotte

Journalist Robert D. Raiford remembers covering JFK funeral

It was 50 years ago Monday that millions of us were glued to our television sets watching the funeral of President John F. Kennedy.

Many stayed informed by listening to the broadcast on radio.

For years, Robert D. Raiford has been a contributor on the John Boy and Billy Radio show.

However, 1963 when he worked for WTOP in Washington, Raiford was handpicked by CBS to add commentary during the funeral.

Americans would hear the voice of Walter Cronkite on that day.

Universal Newsreels distributed their narrative to hundreds of movie houses.

As the procession moved along the streets of Washington, radio listeners across the country also listened to Raiford's words.

"People are very quiet, and I can look into women's eyes, which are usually the first to cloud over and actually do not see a handkerchief being placed to a cheek yet," he said.

His vantage point was at Fourth and Constitution.

Raiford was taken with the crowd's emotions.

"Men ain't supposed to cry, but some did," Raiford recalls. "So it was touching for me to see all of that and then to know that you're on the whole CBS radio network coast to coast."

During what he described to listeners as a somber and solemn day, Raiford admitted difficulty in keeping his feelings in tact.

He holds onto  couple of keep sakes from that day.

The paystub from CBS, and the black cashmere coat he wore that day.

Raiford remembers another powerful passage that sets the scene.

Listeners heard, "The flag draped coffin strapped on the caisson. It moves down and as the caisson moves. The people who are here move with it. They walk reverently close behind."

It was one of Raiford's parting shots on a day that changed America.

Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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