As all of us so well know, 50 years ago today was one of the most shocking days in American History–the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Regardless of our politics, whether we agreed or disagreed with the Kennedy presidency, our world stopped for a few days as we stayed glued to our tv sets, watching in horror as the details were told over and over and the pictures shown, from the procession of the cars, the shooting of JFK and finally the heart wrenching funeral honoring a president who was loved by many. I heard someone mention today, and I agree, how can any of us forget the adorable little toddler, John F. Kennedy, Jr. walking with his Mom Jackie and his sister Caroline behind the caisson carrying his father and the brave salute he gave to honor his father. I never realized, or perhaps I had forgotten, but that day was the 3rd birthday of little John. That memory still brings tears to my eyes, thinking of those little children who probably did not understand why some cruel person took their Daddy away from them and why he would never be back home with them.
I remember well where I was when I first heard the news of the assassination. I was in my senior year in high school and as we came out of the school that afternoon we were told the horrible news. I remember thinking, could it really be true? How could it be? This is the United States of America! These things just don’t happen in our country, do they? Wow, talk about a rude awakening to the changes coming in our future. Our whole world seemed to turn upside down from what it had been up to that point. Gone was the innocence of our youth and gone was the fairy tale presidency of Camelot.
Many years later, I lived in Texas for a few years and on a few occasions visited the site of the assassination. I stood near the window where Oswald’s shot was fired,in the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, the site of the Texas Book Depository. I saw all the exhibits and watched over and over at the tv screen with Walter Cronkite announcing the President has died. I walked on Dealey Plaza and on the grassy knoll. I still get the chills when I think of how it felt to be there many years after the fact. The last time I was there, the temperature outdoors was 105 degrees F, but for the time I was there I never noticed the heat because of those chills I felt in knowing what had happened on that site so many years ago.
RIP President John F. Kennedy.