This weekend I’ve been thinking of and reminded of the fifty year anniversary of JFK’s assassination
Looking back at all the old films looping on TV the past three days, I’m reminded of just how technologically primitive we were in 1963. There were no cell phones, Facebook, personal computers, instant messaging or even real-time news reporting. That event sparked a whole new era of imparting world and local news.
We all remember where we were that day, like this generation remembers 9/11.
I was in PE class when an announcement came that we would be having an all school assembly in the auditorium. There we learned of our President’s death. I don’t think we knew he was dead, but the principal announced that President Kennedy had been shot.
I had only heard of assignations in my American History Class. It all seemed so barbaric and out of character for our modern day. We hadn’t been jaded by terrorist attracts or conflict on our own soil since the American Revolution and Lincoln’s assassination during the Civil War?
Coming from a fundamentalist background, where every event in history was prophesied in the Bible, and surely marked the end of times, I was terrified. That’s all anyone talked about—“It was a sign.” They said. So, as typical teenager, I lamented about all the things I would never get to do, get married, have kids, and go to college— because the end of the world was at hand.
I stayed with a high school friend part of that weekend and somehow our usual pajama talk about boys, fashion, parents, and Ricky Nelson seemed irrelevant.
Later I watched the funeral procession on our thirteen-inch black and white television set in my parent’s living room. The image that made the most impression on me was Mrs. Kennedy. Her stoic countenance, carriage, and bravery set an example of all young women.
November is a dismal month in the Midwest, and the steady, marked rhythm of the drums and dirge made it even more so. I wanted the sun to come out, I wanted it to be summer—at the fair—anywhere but where I was. The whole world seemed to be blanketed by depression and doom.
I’m sure that day evokes different emotions and memories for all of us from that generation, but for me along with all the selfish thoughts I had that weekend, I felt a deep sadness that would stay with me. I wanted to cry for the President’s children who would never see their father again, and for the handsome, young Jack Kennedy who had seemed invincible.
We seem to mark life’s calendar with events of great joy or sadness.
I’m joyful that America produced such a progressive and bright man to be our President, and sad that we will never know the extent of his greatness.
On that day, Americans were neither Republican nor Democrat— right or left-wing. We were… one in grief.
Riderless Horse Image from the internet.