Saturday, November 23, 2013

Remembering our History--The Day President Kennedy Died

There are some memorable moments in history that are undeniably life changing. For those of us who were alive the day our nation lost John F Kennedy we still ask almost yearly, "Where were you the day President Kennedy was shot?"

For me it is still a vivid memory. It was lunch time, maybe shortly, after when the teacher opened the classroom door to a visitor. The person whispered something in her ear. Her hand went to her mouth as she gasped. When she turned around to us there were tears running down her face. She told us in between her sobs that our president was dead. All we knew was that he had been shot by an unknown assassin and we were still in the middle of the "Cold War" with Russia. Classes were dismissed and everyone in the hallways were crying and looked numb. When I got home my mother was crying. My mother, my siblings and I sat in front of the TV waiting for news and hoping the assassin was caught.   We were supposed to go see the movie PT 109 that night with our father but the movie theater on our base closed (maybe because of the alert status). We were a military family (USAF) stationed at Ellsworth Air Base outside Rapid City, South Dakota. We all wanted to see the movie about Kennedy's war experiences. It was a sad time for our home and for our country. The base was on alert and people were on edge. The news coverage went around the clock, something quite unusual in 1963. We sat glued to the set and watched the coverage over and over. Our nation watched as they announced the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald.  Perhaps we all breathed a sigh of relief until the news announced his link to Russia.  On November 24, I was sitting in front of the TV when Jack Ruby stepped out of a crowd at the jail and shot Oswald.  Jack Ruby became somewhat a hero for many since it was perceived that he killed the man responsible for killing our beloved president.  

We continued watching the coverage for days.  We saw Lyndon B Johnson take the oath of office on the plane heading back to Washington DC with the first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, at his side.  She was still wearing the blood spattered suit she had worn while sitting in the car with her husband when he was shot.  And later we watched as precious John John, the president's son, saluted his father's coffin as it passed by in the funeral procession.

Our nation mourned the death of our president!