My mother and father remember where they were when the Pearl Harbor attack happened. I don’t remember that – I wasn’t here yet.
But I DO remember when Kennedy was assassinated. I was in college (yes, dears, I’m THAT old!), just finishing lunch on a Friday, and was sitting with friends in the lounge of the Commons Building, waiting for my next class. The receptionist was playing some music over the loudspeaker.
Then the music stopped and she turned the radio on; as we listened in disbelief, the announcer said that Kennedy had been shot and had just been rushed to the hospital; there was no information about whether he was alive or dying or even dead.
My next class was World History with a professor who prided himself on public speaking as well as his information of current events. He had the radio playing so we could hear the announcement of Kennedy’s death.
The professor said something that I am sure was momentous that we should remember to our graves, but I was crying so hard I didn’t register anything he said except “class dismissed.”
We had no classes for the rest of the day and so sat around the radios, listening. Some lucky enough to have access to TV were able to watch the news. But all of my friends and I got to a TV for the funeral.
This was also just a week before Thanksgiving, so everyone’s Thanksgiving that year was subdued, quiet and sad.
Norm was in the Army, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was in the mess hall, having lunch. He was put on alert, as all military bases were. Because the president had been assassinated, there was a possibility that it was a planned take-over of the government by some unknown powers or countries.
Many history books and many political people have differing opinions about how Kennedy ran his office and whether he was a great president or not, but he was MY president! He was the first one I was allowed to vote for. He was the president of my young adult years. He also was the first president in many, MANY years to be assassinated, so for us “moderns,” he WAS the first.
So on this day, I will take time to think of this great man and what he meant to me and to the country. Perhaps this is a time to think of other important dates in American History that we should all pause and say a brief prayer. Perhaps a prayer of thanksgiving that even though such terrible crimes do happen, this great country of ours still thrives, still grows, still goes on.