I know I am not the only one here who is old enough to remember President Kennedy. The upcoming anniversary of his assassination brings back a lot of memories from an early time in my life. Every year I still cry on November 22 and this year will be especially painful.
I was wondering for those of you old enough to remember him, what do remember about President Kennedy? Where were you and what were doing when you first heard about the shooting? How did it affect you?
For those of you who only know President Kennedy through history what is your understanding and feeling about him? Is it just another historical event to you? Have those around you who do remember shaped your understanding.
I remember seeing the Kennedy-Nixon debate on TV, live. I remember the election. I remember the assassination. I do not remember the Cuban missile crisis. Maybe as I child my parents shielded me from it. But most all of a remember him. A larger than life President who had the admiration and love most everyone. A man who tried to bring the best out of everyone and succeeded in many ways.
I remember that Friday afternoon getting up to leave the school cafeteria after finishing lunch. I was in 5th grade, 10 years old. At the door were several teachers and the principal directing us to go down to a classroom where they had set up a television and telling us that the President had been shot.
I remember sitting there watching the frantic news reporters searching for information.
I remember the astounding disbelief on their faces, and ours.
I remember the announcement that The President of the United States had died.
I remember being so confused I didn't know what to feel.
I remember at that moment, the entire world simply stopped. Everyone was catatonic from the shock. Nothing happened for three days. It was not the same as 9/11 where people reacted with patriotic flag waving and anger at the terrorists. When President Kennedy died everyone felt the grief as if they had lost a close family member. Not just here in U.S. but most of world as well. And the whole world stopped.
I remember then President Johnson taking the oath of office with Jackie Kennedy behind him.
I remember the first time I heard the name Lee Harvey Oswald and thinking what kind of a monster could do this.
I remember coming home from church that Sunday morning as they were taking him from the Dallas jail and seeing, live on national television, Jack Ruby shoot and kill Lee Harvey Oswald.
I remember the sadness of the funeral and that iconic picture of John Jr. saluting.
I remember that nothing was ever the same again. Everything changed in one second that Friday afternoon.
Still, 50 years later, I am sad that John F. Kennedy was taken from us and can't help but shed some tears when I think about it. No one knows what would have happened had he lived but I cannot help but think that world would be a much better place today if he had.