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Quick Description: Merriman Smith was the United Press International (UPI) wire service reporter who first broke the news that President John Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963
Location: Virginia, United States
Date Posted: 6/18/2011 7:09:43 PM
Waymark Code: WMBT0E
Merriman Smith was a newspaper reporter who began the tradition of ending presidential news press conferences with “Thank you, Mr. President.” Smith, who was working for the United Press International Wire Service was in Dallas, Texas in 1963 when President John Kennedy was assassinated. Smith a fierce competitor was first to break the news of the Assassination beating out Jack Bell of the Associated Press. With 5-bells announcing the bulletin the world was first notified of the events that had occurred on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. Smith initial bulletin read:
UPI A7N DA
DALLAS,NOV.22(UPI)--THREE SHOTS WERE FIRED AT PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S MOTORCADE IN DOWNTOWN DALLAS.
A few minutes later Walter Cronkite interrupted CBS Television programming and read Smith bulletin almost word for word.
In 1964, Merriman Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Kennedy assassination. Smith is also credited with being the first to use the term “Grassy Knoll” as it related to the scene in Dealey Plaza.
In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson presented Smith with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Merriman Smith died on April 13, 1970 from a self-inflicted gun-shot wound. The Commanding General of the Military District of Washington granted special permission for Smith to be buried next to his son in Arlington National Cemetery. He is resting in Section 32 – Grave 823.
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