Fifty years ago and yet, I remember it as clearly as if it was yesterday. I was sitting in history class when the classroom door opened and the Principal of our school beckoned our teacher out into the hallway. A few moments later, the two returned with grief stricken faces and announced to the class that our President had been shot. Tears streamed down our teacher’s face as he announced we were to pack up our things…school was cancelled for the rest of the day.
We filed out of the school and headed home. I was only thirteen but I felt the loss of our nation’s leader along with the rest of my classmates.
Students walked home slowly with solemn faces. When my sister and I arrived home, our parents met us with the news that our President had died.
For three days, the nation stopped and we watched. The days were spent in front of the television as the details of the assassination of John F. Kennedy were played out and history unfolded itself in front of our eyes. Television cameras recorded the grief of a nation; the shooting of Oswald and the final goodbye to our president.
Over the years, I have never met anyone who doesn’t remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard of President Kennedy’s death. We all remember and we all feel sad every year on the anniversary of the assassination of our President.
But, the picture that stands so clearly in my mind is not one of the vivid recordings of the shooting of the President, or the shocking scene of Lee Harvey Oswald’s death, or the long funeral procession.
The picture I associate with the overwhelming sadness and the grief we all experienced, as one nation, over those three days is the picture of a three year old son saluting his father…saying Goodbye.
I imagine that as my generation passes on that the memories and stories of where we were and what we were doing will become lost and forgotten. There will be no one left to describe the pain and the sorrow the nation felt on that awful day we lost our President.
But I remember. Yes, it was fifty years ago…but I remember.