In a gripping testament to history’s most enduring mysteries, National Geographic’s forthcoming docuseries, “JFK: One Day in America,” is set to unearth the chilling recollections of surviving witnesses who bore witness to the tumultuous events of November 22, 1963. As the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s tragic assassination approaches, former journalist Peggy Simpson, Dallas reporter Bill Mercer, and former police officer Rusty Robbins are breaking their silence, sharing their eyewitness accounts for the very first time.
This is the second installment in the Emmy Award-winning “One Day In America” historical docuseries franchise by National Geographic. “JFK: One Day in America” is poised to premiere on November 5, offering an oral history of the harrowing events that transpired, as recounted by those who were on the ground that fateful day. These firsthand perspectives breathe life into the historical record and offer a unique insight into the emotions and experiences of those who were there.
Bill Mercer, who played a pivotal role in history as the first person to inform Lee Harvey Oswald of his murder charge, reminisces, “It was just impossible to believe,” reflecting on the shocking moment he learned of President Kennedy’s shooting. The tragedy of the president’s assassination was soon to be overshadowed by another shocking twist when Oswald himself was murdered just two days later as authorities prepared to transfer him to the Dallas County courthouse.
Peggy Simpson, the sole female Associated Press reporter in Texas in 1963, found herself an eyewitness to this second horrifying act. Jack Ruby, a local Dallas nightclub owner, fatally shot Oswald as he was being escorted through the basement of the Dallas Police Headquarters. In an exclusive clip obtained by PEOPLE, Simpson recounts the moment: “I was on the phone with my bureau chief and I heard the cops say, ‘This is Jack Ruby.’ What? I drink in his bar. How can this be?” The shockwaves of Ruby’s actions reverberated through the nation.
Rusty Robbins, another key eyewitness, shares his thoughts on Ruby’s impulsive act: “I was sorry that he had messed up like that. He committed a grave error — one that you can’t eradicate. Jack did what he did. He wanted to be somebody. Everybody loved the president, so everybody hated the man who had killed the president. Somehow, [Jack thought] this was going to make Jack a hero.” Robbins underscores the fact that Jack Ruby was a known figure, not someone anyone expected to do harm, making the act all the more shocking.
The three-part limited series, officially in collaboration with The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, will provide a comprehensive account of that tragic moment in American history and the far-reaching repercussions that followed. According to a press release, the docuseries will employ a blend of archival footage, some colorized for the first time, along with key testimony from the last surviving witnesses. This combination creates an immersive, minute-by-minute examination of that pivotal day that forever changed history.
As the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination draws near, “JFK: One Day in America” promises to deliver a compelling narrative that will not only captivate history enthusiasts but also allow viewers to connect with the poignant experiences of those who were on the scene during one of the darkest days in American history.