Where Were You That Day?

There is quite a lot of talk leading up to Friday, November 22, 2013 as the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Many news outlets are asking, "What do you remember of that day?" and I realized that most of the readers of this blog were likely not even born then.  I can tell what I remember as a very small child.

 I was with my mother in the town general mercantile store.  (I know, it sounds very old-timey but we lived in a company town and they owned a large store that housed a combo Macy's with a supermarket.)  It had a large open floor plan and you could look up and see shoppers on the second floor.  It was a beehive of activity and sounded that way all the time.

It was odd that I was with my mother - she worked full-time as a nurse - but I was.  (I was not in school as I was a kindergarten drop-out.  Mom sent me to a Catholic school and a nun hit me on the hand with a ruler and I refused to go back.  Mom didn't argue the point as she never hit me.)  

I just remember how there was some announcement over the loudspeaker and then it was so quiet.  I could hear ladies sobbing and my mother was teary-eyed.  We went home.

I remember a couple of days later on tv., watching the funeral procession and how much I liked seeing all those black horses.  I wondered about the little girl standing next to her mother and the little boy who saluted.  I didn't really know who there were until much later.  I cannot see that footage today without crying.  

You may not have lived through the JFK assassination but you did live through 9/11. 

I urge you to write down what you remember that day if only for your own family history.  Ask your children if they are old enough to remember.  It is a valuable piece of history to have these remembrances.  TLC has shown, "Letters to Jackie", a documentary based on the book about many of the letters that ordinary citizens wrote to Mrs. Kennedy after her husband's death.  It is quite moving and show that everyday stories do matter.

Also, here's a conversation starter for your next dinner party - if they had lived - JFK, RFK, MLK, Jr. or Malcolm X - who would have made the biggest impact?  I suspect MLK, Jr. because of his ability to get people to listen and to move people to action.  It's probably not really helpful to think about "what if" but you do sometimes wonder, given the leaders we have today.


Anonymous said…
Home from school sick that day -I was 8. The TV was on and an announcer broke into the program with the news. I ran to find my mother and told her. With tears in her eyes, she asked me to get down on my knees and pray. My mother was the same age as JFK and we were also Catholic. To this day I get the chills when I hear, "we interrupt this program to..."

In some ways that horrible day seems longer than 50 years ago.

Still Remember said…
I attended half day K. Our black an white tv was on and I didn't understand why my mother was crying.

I watched the horse and carriage carry JKF's flag covered casket. I still remember the sound of horse shoes hitting the ground. Jackie O. had a black veil covering her face and she looked to be in shock. JFK Jr. saluted his father's casket.
SolvayGirl said…
I remember the announcement by Mother Superior over the PA system. I was a 10-year-old student attending St. Cecilia's School. Coincidently, November 22 was also St. Cecilia's official day. We were sent home and told to pray. The nuns and students were all in tears.
My parents had campaigned for Kennedy, so I was very aware of him. My friend Alice and I spent the day saying the rosary. I will never forget it.
I don't know if the death of any other president would affect me the way Kennedy's did. I do know I wouldn't be saying the rosary anymore.
mirmac1 said…
I was three years old. My parents had immigrated to the U.S. within the year. They already were strong believers in the promise and ideals of a democracy, despite having faced ill-treatment, discrimination, and scorn.

I was in the back seat of my dad's old Ford, standing up on the transmission hump, watching my parents cry as they listened to the car radio.

One of my few vivid memories from childhood.
Carol Simmons said…
I was teaching Drama at Ingraham High School to a class of thirty 10th,11th and 12th grade students. The Principal (Claude Turner) notified all staff in a conference call that the President had been shot. We were told to use our own judgement regarding how to and what to tell students. The reaction from my students ranged from tears of sadness, to total disbelief, to fear that the United States was under attack. Some wanted to discuss the tragedy, others wanted to play charades and still others sat at their desks un characteristically subdued. School was not dismissed and although school"kept" that day no one really wanted to leave the safety of the classroom nor the comfort from their classmates anyway.
David said…
Was in 7th grade at James Madison Jr. High. It was 7th grade lunchtime and I was told by a boy while in the restroom that Kennedy had been shot. Not believing him, I went back to lunchroom and asked Mr. Heytfelt who was on duty if it was true. He answered "Yes President Kennedy had been shot". I was in Mr. Heytfelts Geometry class after lunch when we were told he had died fron his wounds. All us kids were shook and spent the rest of the class and the next class with our heads down on our desks in grief. Then the rest of the school day was cancelled. On the long walk home, my friends and I began dealing with rumors i.e. that LBJ was also shot and that the Russians were behind it. Scary stuff - a day to remenber for sure.

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