On November 22, 1963 John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Today, November 22, 2013 is the 50 anniversary of that terrible event.
One of the questions always asked, was "Where were you when Kennedy was assassinated?" I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was 10 years old, coming up to my 11th birthday in December and I was in Grade 6. I came home for lunch as I usually did, as I lived one block from my school. My mother was upset and agitated and the radio was on. I learned that Kennedy had been shot, but he was still alive, or at least that's what we were being told. The Governor of Texas, John Connally, had also been shot. Neither my mother nor I could believe that this had happened--it was so shocking. I went back to school for 1 o'clock and there was a sombre mood through the whole school that afternoon. No one could believe what had happened. When I came home at 4, I learned that Kennedy had died. Again, I couldn't believe it, no one could.
That night, as I lay in bed and couldn't sleep, I felt sure or at least very hopeful that Kennedy was alive after all. That his death had been reported as a ruse to draw out the people that had tried to kill him. I envisioned him at the hospital with Jackie. He was injured, but very much alive. I didn't want to believe that he was really gone. In the days that followed and culminated with Kennedy's funeral, we all had to begin to grasp the fact that he was really gone. The bravery and strength of Jackie during those awful days is etched in the minds of everyone who watched the funeral on TV. Every one's heart broke for those 2 little children whose father had been so horribly snatched from them.
The other night I watched the TLC program. "Letters to Jackie: Remembering". It brought back a lot of memories and feelings and was very emotional to watch. In the 40 days after Kennedy's assassination, Jackie received over 800,000 letters--from people of all walks of life and all ages. There was such a wide sense of loss across the American nation. And it was the same up here in Canada too. People related how they heard that Kennedy had been shot, where they were at the time, and they expressed heart felt sorrow and sympathy. Interestingly and tellingly, there were comments that they felt that much bigger concerns than Oswald were responsible for Kennedy's death.
As far as I am concerned, John Kennedy's presidency was the last time the United States had a real President, a man that was prepared to stand up for what he knew to be right. That's why he was killed. Yes he made mistakes and yes, as we learned later, he had lead a less than stellar private life. But in that he was not alone. Some of the world's most brilliant leaders over the centuries have lived just that same way. It must be part of that brilliance. If only there were still men of his calibre today.
On November 22, 1963 the innocence of our lives was shattered forever. This is how I have always felt and I know others have felt the same way.