50 Years After JFK

I am happy to finally be able to say TGIF! It has been a busy week and I get to have my first weekend in a while. But it was sort of a weird Friday. I woke up to one of the most gloomy and ugly days I have ever experienced weather wise. And, it turns out it affected a little more.

WH/HO Portrait

The late President John F. Kennedy

Today marks 50 years after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. On November 22, 1963 JFK arrived in Dallas, TX where he was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. Lyndon B. Johnson succeeded the presidency after the death was confirmed.

He was one of the most beloved presidents and most assessable to the public eye. Most American’s owned a television set, the latest source for information, which included televised speeches by JFK himself. His famous “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” was one such speech that was televised and has been looped in my history classes and on today’s news. He was young, charming, and handsome and the TV embraced that to the public eye.

The media and the popularity of the president proved this day to be one of the most iconic in the public memories that experienced it. I was not even a thought when President Kennedy was assassinated, but my parents were 9 and 12 and recall the day. My mother was home from school and remembers watching the reactions of her parents and siblings before the TV was flicked on and my father found out after coming home from school and sitting on the patio with his friend.

Several reporters today also recall where they were, what they were doing, and even wearing when they found out about the assassination. And while there are constant conversations about conspiracy theories, one thing stays the same in that Americans were devastated by the event and will never forget.

For me, I relate those vivid memories that people have about where they personally were when they found out to my own experience with September 11th. I was in 8th grade and just arriving to base camp after a two day backpacking trip. We were exhausted but excited to have made good time. But instead of a celebratory afternoon, we were gathered around and told what had happened. They gave us our journals to write in, but I had nothing I could write. I didn’t even know what the Twin Towers were.

I was so removed from the world. Sitting on a log in the middle of the woods, it was hard to grasp anything. It wasn’t until I returned home from the trip a couple days later that the news filled me in completely. To imagine seeing those images live, with no warning or explanation would have been confusing, frustrating and scary. That is why people remembering today can tell us, with such detail, what they were doing.

It’s a day to recall and I think the weather matched what a lot of people felt for many days after his passing. What do you remember about a big event?


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