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FORT WORTH -- President John F. Kennedy's visit to Fort Worth 50 years ago - the day before he was killed - was marked by a brief, simple show of respect Friday.

In the pre-dawn chill, a wreath was placed at the feet of the Kennedy statue across from the hotel where he spent his last night, and gave his last speech.

Mayor Betsy Price, Congressman Roger Williams and former Secret Service agent Clint Hill spent a few moments in silence beneath Kennedy's outstretched hand. Hill was assigned to protect Jacqueline Kennedy during the Texas trip.

'Because our responsibility was to protect the president, and we failed to do that, I do feel that sense of guilt that we were unable to do anything to prevent the assassination from happening,' he said.

Beneath the portico of the Hilton Hotel, the former Hotel Texas, sat the gleaming white Continental convertible that carried the president and first lady in the Fort Worth motorcade.

Roger Williams said his father Jack, a car dealer, agreed to provide vehicles for the motorcade if the president would greet his wife and son.

Roger Williams was a 14-year-old standing at the hotel door with his mom when president and Mrs. Kennedy paused to shake their hands before heading to Dallas.

'[President Kennedy] shook my hand, did not let it go, looked back at my mother and said, 'It's a pleasure to meet your son,'' Williams recalled.

Inside the hotel, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce marked the occasion with a breakfast, just as it did 50 years ago when President Kennedy was the keynote speaker, and the Texas Boys Choir performed, as they also did on that day. Hundreds attended the event in the Hilton's grand ballroom.

This time, they honored former US House Speaker Jim Wright, who helped arrange the Kennedy's trip to Fort Worth. Silver and stooped at 90, Wright is five years younger than John F. Kennedy would be today.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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