Good morning Nina Hollander and thank you for your original blog.
Do you remember where you were when you heard President Kennedy was shot and had died 57 years ago on November 22nd, 1963?
I remember November 22nd, 1963 as if it was yesterday. 57 years ago, today, I was a 15 year old, high school sophomore in a biology lab class when someone ran into the bio lab to announce that the President had been shot and had died. As I was attending a Lutheran parochial high school, I remember quietly filing out with all my classmates to the school's chapel for prayers for the President and then an early dismissal of school.
I don't think anyone of us who were of a certain age in 1963 have ever forgotten where we were and how we felt when we heard this news. With the hindsight of more than half a century, I believe that our nation's innocence was shattered on November 22nd, 1963.
My impressions of that day and the days to follow through the funeral events are also very clear today in my mind's eye:
- I remember how quiet my classmates and I all were on the bus rides home from school. And as we travelled via New York City public buses, the silence on the buses was truly overwhelming.
- I remember how silent a bustling city like New York became for the next four days. Looking out our living room windows, all I could see was empty streets.
- In a home where TV watching was hugely rationed, I remember how our TV went on and stayed on for the next several days. Because in 1963, most of us had black and white TV's, the broadcasting in grey tones truly matched the grey and sad mood of that weekend. It felt as if the world had gone grey. Political affiliations did not matter.
- I remember the funeral procession, I remember little John Kennedy saluting his father's casket, I remember the lighting of the eternal flame, I remember Jacqueline Kennedy's dignity throughout.
- I remember going through those days feeling as if I was living in some dream state, as if what I was watching was surreal and that I would wake up and things would go back to what they had been a few days earlier.
57 years later, I'm still amazed at the clarity with which I remember that weekend and my overwhelming feeling of quiet, sadness, and greyness. And as I think back on my life, I've realized there aren't all that many events (outside of personal ones like a wedding, death of a parent) that remain so crystal clear in my mind as to where I was when an event occured.
For me, this was the first such cataclysmic event, followed by the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King within months of each other, the explosion of the Challenger, the first walk on the moon, 9/11.
Regardless of your political affiliation, President John F Kennedy's voice was a truly inspirational voice for its time. And in many ways, that voice has transcended its time. To this day, the only inauguration speech I can recite pieces of or even remember content from is that of John F Kennedy's. Listening to it, one can only marvel at the timelessness of its message.
Remembering those days, today, 57 years later, I'm wondering how this event will be acknowledged another 25 years from now. In another 25 years the people who lived through that event will probably be in the minority due to age. It will truly be "old" history to many who will be alive 25 years from now. I am still amazed to think about how many of the people of that time are now gone--because it doesn't seem as if more than half a century has passed. Today, 57 years later, I still feel an overwhelming sadness and sense of loss and a lot of "what if."
Do you remember where you were 57 years ago when you heard President Kennedy died?
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