Today is November 22, 2013 and marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States.
For those of us who are old enough, we remember exactly where we were when we heard the news of his killing. We remember enduring a weekend of nothing but the coverage of the assassination on all the TV channels in our area. We remember the killing of suspected assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV that Sunday morning and we remember the funeral held on Monday, with the salute of John Jr. as the casket rolled by in the streets of Washington DC.
I was in the 5th grade, attending Langdon Avenue Elementary School in Sepulveda, California, a suburb of Los Angeles located in the San Fernando Valley. It was lunchtime and we were sitting at the lunch pavilion, outside (it was Southern California, after all) eating our lunches brought from home.
Rosie, our lunchtime aide (and probably a Mom to some of the students there) came over and told us the horrible news; The President was shot and had died. Remember, this was back when politics, while in many ways a rough business, was not as acrimonious as it is now. Most everyone that I knew loved President Kennedy. We were all in shock, we were sad and some were crying.
Upon returning to the classroom, our teacher Miss Jones, asked us to bow our heads and say a prayer for the President and his family. As a Jewish kid, this seemed a bit odd to me since I had never seen anyone bow his or her head in prayer before. However, I did it anyway. After that, we got back to the business of school, as I remember.
For the next 4 days, there was nothing on TV except the news of the assassination and the return of the President’s body to Washington in preparation for the funeral to be held on Monday. No cartoons on Saturday and Sunday morning as usual. Hour after hour, it droned on.
I was up and watching on Sunday morning, hoping to find a cartoon or something else on one of the stations. We had seven channels at that time; surely, one of them might show something else. But no.
Anyway, I started watching the coverage and was able to see the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby on live TV on our Dumont TV.
The country was awash in a profound state of sadness, which was both apparent and palpable.
Years later, I was in Washington DC on business and had some time before my plane ride home so I went over to Arlington National Cemetery. One of my stops was the Kennedy gravesite. As I arrived there, I noticed there were many people there. Was this normal? It was in the middle of a weekday afternoon in the fall, so why were all these people there? Then I realized it was November 22nd. Ah, no wonder.
I also had the opportunity to visit Dallas as well and I was surprised seeing Elm Street with the Book Depository Building in Dealey Plaza being much closer to the street than the TV seems to show. Therefore, the distance to shoot from the sixth floor of the building was not as far as I thought it was.
We have never really gotten a good, credible explanation of the assassination itself. To this day, we have many theories, many conspiracies, but no definitive, reasonable explanation of who did it, why, and how it happened.
What, if anything do you remember?