Thursday, November 21, 2013

50 Year Memory

In the history of the Unites States of America, four Presidents have been assassinated. The most recent was President John F. Kennedy, on November 22, 1963...fifty years ago tomorrow.

I was 8 years old, in third grade at Meadow Hall Elementary in Rockville, Maryland. When the news of the shooting in Dallas broke, I was in Mrs. Gonano's class. A teacher from another class came into our room, and she was crying. This was startling at a young age, to see an adult teacher crying. She spoke quietly to Mrs. Gonano, who then shakily told us what had happened. Minutes later, the school principal came on the public address system to make an official announcement. School was cancelled, and we were told to go home.

As young children, we couldn't completely comprehend what had happened. But the message that it was really bad news got through, and we were scared. I remember the walk home, with panicked, crying children around me. Fortunately, I lived only about 2 blocks from school, so was home quickly.

Although I clearly remember the reaction at school, I don't really recall how my parents dealt with it at home. For me, it was enough that we felt safe and reassured with Mom and Dad.

We watched the funeral procession on TV, and I remember feeling sad for Carolyn and John, because their Daddy was gone forever.

Years later, as a teenager living in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, I visited Arlington Cemetery, the site of Kennedy's grave and the Eternal Flame. Early in my work career I lived in Dallas for 14 years, and many times drove the route of the President's motorcade on that fateful day 50 years ago, past Dealey Plaza. 

We are connected to this and other historic events that occur during our lifetimes in many ways - some small and some very influential to who we are or who we become. To many people today, the assassination of President Kennedy is merely history. For some of us, it is a vivid memory.

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