Candace, Fort Lauderdale FL
I was 13
years old. It was Friday afternoon and my thoughts were probably on the
weekend. A scratchy noise came over the P.A. system and then what sounded like
a radio broadcast. They never did that before.
The announcer was saying
that President Kennedy had been shot but there was a garbled and breathless
quality to it so it didn't seem real.
My teacher, whose name I think
was Ruby Irwin, teary, ran out of the room. We wouldn't see her again until
Tuesday. She left us there to figure it out by ourselves. Eventually school was
let out early.
When I got home the TV was on, as it would be through
Monday. We watched hours of nothing as they had very little news and fewer
pictures. Mostly interviews and old Kennedy pics. Still I sat there and
watched. I had admired Kennedy and knew parts of his Inaugural Address by
heart. I was very sad.
When we did see Jackie and the kids, I cried.
They broke my heart. I thought she was the most elegant, most composed woman I
had ever seen.
On Sunday I was watching by myself when Ruby shot Oswald.
I thought I must have misunderstood and screamed for my mother, "OSWALD'S BEEN
SHOT." My mother came into the room halfway into a reassuring denial when she
realized it was true. She sat down dumbfounded. Speechless now.
the four days we were exhausted. Too much shock and sorrow. And we were changed
in a lot of ways we didn't yet understand.
Denny, Hollywood CA
I was on the set
of the TV show, "Rifleman." The set got very chaotic. People going to each
other with questions in their eyes. Disbelief...then the energy sapping truth.
Chaos turned to a slowing down till all were stopped. Most of us walked away.
We didn't walk to any place --- we just wanted to be alone in our grief.
Seconds before the set of "The Rifleman" had been like any other TV set. People
doing their jobs, an occasional burst of laughter, movement everywhere. Chuck
"That's a wrap." No more work today. JFK was dead..
It's still vivid in my memory. A memory that is hazy on almost every
subject. But not that one.
Joyce, Philadelphia PA
I was working
downtown in Philly, at Dun & Bradstreet, 15th. & Market St. at 3 Penn
Center. The windows in my office faced Market Street and all of us heard a lot
of noise outside and we all thought there had been a traffic accident. We
opened the windows and then we heard the horrible news. First we all looked at
each other not believing what we heard, then it sank in and we all started to
cry. For those who are too young to remember, ask someone in your family and
I'm sure they will be able to tell you exactly where they were and what they
We all lost a great man, a wonderful president that day.
From that day on I believe the world went crazy and it has never really been
the same since. Of course losing Bobby Kennedy and Martin L. King approx 3 or 4
years later, the same way we lost JFK, a bullet. Losing those 3 wonderful brave
men who really wanted to help our country never got the chance.
can say is, "Rest In Peace and God Be With You" ....Amen!
Mar, Cleveland OH
I have often said
that America lost her innocence on that fateful day. It is so hard to explain
to people who didn't experience it the impact and importance AB had to us. It
is even more difficult to express the shock and hopelessness we all felt when
JFK was assassinated. Since that time, there seems to have been a concerted
effort (most notably by the media) to make us immune and accepting of such
I remember when my daughter was in grade school, she came home
and told me they had an extra credit question to name the daughter of the man
they were honoring that day (the anniversary of the assassination). She told me
she didn't even know who they were honoring. I couldn't believe they hadn't
taught about this horrible moment in history.
I was working at a
neighborhood jewelry store in Cleveland, Ohio when I heard the news. The radio
was playing softly and I was absorbed in paper work when the owner's aunt said
"They just said the president was shot in Dallas." I just got up, walked out of
the store and went home in a daze. I spent the whole day glued to the TV
crying. Then on Sunday, my dad was in front of the TV and called "Honey, they
are transferring Oswald now -- come see." And we got to witness his murder
live. It was all a nightmare from which we couldn't wake. Whether you liked JFK
or not, he was vibrant and optimistic and a moving speech maker. His personal
weaknesses had nothing to do with his ability to lead and I wish the powers
that be didn't feel it necessary to tarnish his image.
Truthfully I must be the only
"dork" on earth that does not remember where I was or what I was doing...its
just a blank..I do remember everybody being in complete shock..my father LOVED
JFK..hey the first Irish Catholic to ever be elected into office!
know that everything shut down...all TV programming was pre-empted until after
the funeral. My husband (boyfriend then) was leaving on Saturday the 24th of
November for basic training, and I remember us watching the coverage right up
until he left. As if the shock of the assassination wasn't enough for America
to try and absorb, that Sunday as the world watched Lee Harvey Oswald being
transferred, he was shot right before our eyes on national TV!
funeral of JFK I will never forget..I still see it in my mind as if it were
yesterday..the viewing at the Rotunda...beautiful young Jackie and Caroline
going up together to the coffin...Jackie flanked by the entire immediate family
walking to the church...the horse with the boots turned backwards..and
then..John-Johns infamous salute to his father...I cried my eyes out then and
still choke up now reflecting back on all of it.
America certainly was
changed forever on that day...then began the never ending inquiry into the
assassination that to this day is still being investigated..I didn't believe
then that Oswald acted alone and I don't believe it now..but that's another
story. I was 17 years old when this happened, but I and all of America really
grew up quickly that day...gone was the innocence and the faith we once had in
our fellow man...I think we all became a lot more suspicious of our
surroundings and lost the faith we had in a country that so protected us from
Nuclear attacks and war but failed to protect our President...pretty scary.
Judy, Miami Beach FL
In Nov. 1963 I
was a bit past 16 1/2 years old. I was in 10th grade algebra class (Miami
Beach, Florida) when the principal came on the loud speaker to tell us the
president was shot. I went to P.E. next, sitting in the women's locker room
talking about the president when again the principal came on to tell us he was
dead. Students and teachers began crying holding each other, saying over and
over "I cannot believe he is dead. " My best friend found me in the parking lot
as I was leaving school. She fell into my arms wailing. I was in shock and had
not cried. I went home and stayed glued to the TV for days. The reality of this
event finally hit me when I saw Jack Ruby kill Oswald. I was sitting under my
hair dryer ( the professional kind "beauty parlors" had) (a 16th birth day
present from my parents) so I could not hear what was going on however, when I
saw him kill Oswald I jumped up hitting my head (which was set with those jumbo
rollers and orange juice cans) and started screaming. My mother ran in and I
cried while she held me. I believe his death signaled the changes that
followed. We were no longer innocent. The fifties had officially ended. We
moved into turbulent years. More assassinations, a war that separated us from
our parents and their love of God and country, "sex, drugs and rock and roll",
and as one song writer put it "we became a generation lost in space".
I was is History class on
that fateful day. I remember my teacher was wearing black, and there was around
twenty students that all blended together. That was a start of what seemed the
longest week in history. There wasn't a soul on the streets. Everyone was in
their homes with the television on non-stop. I can still remember each event
that took place as if it happened yesterday. That tragic week, starting with
the killing of President Kennedy, and ending with the killing of Oswald.
So many questions, and no answers. Still till this day, I can't help to
wouder what President Kennedy would look like, Would he and his wife Jackie sit
on a front porch, watching their children, grand-children, and maybe great
grand-children, playing football on their front lawn. How his blue eyes, steep
in emotion over the joy of such a moment. Jackies sublte smile with adoring
admiration of what she has. If only we could turn back the pages of History,
and see President and Mrs Kennedy make there journey through Texas, and end up
back at the White House to continue his and her's life as the First Family. If
only. What makes me feel better is that I picture them in heaven, both talking
about their lives as if nothing has happened. Jack bending over to pick up his
precious namesake, and Caroline running to get her share of her father's
attention. Jackie would stand their, with her smart outfit on, and looking on
with such content, If only. I cannot believe that forty years have past. I will
watch the history channel all this week, with the Kennedy specials that they
are airing. Maybe if I close my eyes long enough, Jack, Jackie, and the rest of
their family will be on their front yard, doing what they want, and everyone
watching with contentment. If only.
Mary Ann, Lancaster, NY
It started out
as just another ordinary day. I needed a few items from the grocery store, so
went to the local A&P in Lancaster, New York. As I was walking through the
produce department, the P.A. System went on, and they started talking about
President Kennedy getting shot. I was shocked. I complained to the produce
person standing there, that such a terrible, ficticious, made up story should
go out over the airwaves, and the author should not get away with it. He told
me that it was not ficticious, it was indeed true, that President Kennedy had
been shot in Texas, and was dead. Then I noticed the tears in his eyes. I just
turned and walked out of the store, got into my car, and headed home. Along the
way, I noticed people sitting in cars, standing on the street, and some in
groups, crying. I cried too.
siva prasanna krishnan, unknown
thirteen years old then and holidaying with my parents in kerala india at that
time. i remember it was about seven in the morning. i had just woken and the
radio was on. the line that caught my heart was: we regret to announce the
death of president John F Kennedy. to say that i was stunned is putting it very
mildly. we were all numb and we did not have any english newspapers. the
malayalam papers the next day did not carry much news. i longed to return to
malaysia and to the straits times. i was always fascinated by the kennedys but
day, born inside of me was this great intense feeling for Mrs Jacqueline
Kennedy. three years later i wrote to her. i had no address and i just wrote,
to Mrs John F Kennedy c/o the White House USA. weeks later a yellow envelope
arrived at my doorstep and inside were three pictures: one of president
Kennedy, one of Mrs Kennedy and one of the couple with their children. i have
the pics with me still. she was more than a person, she was a dream, a touch of
S. Poe, Greenback, TN
I was in seventh
grade, waiting to go to band practice, the last class of the day. Everything
stopped, no classes changed and we listened to reports played over the pa
system. Everyone was in shock and we hardly talked at all, and then we
whispered. That night my parents, sister and I had traveled to Arkansas to mine
for agates. My mom was into collecting and polishing them. The trip had been
planned weeks earlier and we went on. That Friday night, trying to get to sleep
in an unfamiliar motel bed, I kept having visions of a rifle pointing at my
head every time I closed my eyes. It was a miserable night. The next day we
went to the agate grounds and I spent the day just roaming around picking up an
agate here and there but mainly in my own little world, my mind fogged with
thoughts of our dead President. Back at home on Sunday, we watched the coverage
on the tv constantly. We were watching when Oswald got shot. I remember
watching day and night until after the funeral, only going outside occasionally
to kick a football around the yard or play fetch with my dog. But mostly I just
remember being so very sad. I was greatly affected by that day and all these
years later I still can recall that feeling exactly when I think about it. I
still wonder what our country would have been if that had not happened. I have
lived through RFK and MLK assassinations too. And all the others of the
turbulent sixties. I have lived through 9/11 and many other traumatic events
that have changed our country and the world and as horrific as those have been,
I will never forget the day that a very young eleven year old watched with
horror the murder of JFK and all the events that followed during those four
terrible days. I was no doubt traumatized by that single event more than any
other national tragedy that this country has endured. I felt a deep sense of
personal loss......one that I still feel to this day
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