November 22, 2013
As a Canadian teenager attending high school when the Cuba crisis was happening, I was already very aware of President Kennedy and his family. Everyone I knew liked him. He had charisma, an easy-going and approachable manner, and a delightful quick wit. Jackie Kennedy, of course, could not be ignored. Not only was she beautiful and intelligent, but poised enough to meet the credentials of any royalty.
Back to the possibility of total world annihilation, because that’s what loomed. I remember so many students, including myself and friends, crying at our lockers after listening to news on our little transistor radios. When Russia finally backed down, everyone (all over the world) breathed a sigh of relief. The strength and wisdom of President Kennedy during that awful nerve-wracking time was not ‘lost in the crowd’. President Kennedy took on an almost father figure, a protector, to many. To tell the truth, at this very moment I can’t even remember who our prime minister was!
I also remember the Freedom March and watched when the first African-American boy and girl walked into that school during those terrible segregation years. President Kennedy made Gov. George Wallace move his racist body out of the way so that could happen! And then there was the walk on the moon. A lot was happening during those early days of television coverage.
I was 18 years old and at work when I heard the ladies across the hall talking loudly about President Kennedy and I went over to see what was happening. At that time the word was just that he’d been shot. We all were shocked but there was never any thought that he would die. That was just unthinkable and unrealistic. These ladies left their radio on to hear any further news and I returned to my office.
It wasn’t long before I heard someone crying. I went back over to the office across the hall and saw both ladies with tears running down their cheeks. Their boss had come out of his office and was saying, “Oh my God!” over and over. I thought I was going to faint when they told me that President Kennedy was dead. Something inside of me kept saying there had to be some mistake, but, of course, there wasn’t. I burst into tears and returned to my office where the Architect and four draftsmen I worked for were deeply taken aback when I told them. I cried most of the afternoon and finally my boss told me to just go home. I lived in an apartment about 10 minutes walking distance from work and cried all the way home. It was Friday, November 22, 1963 – just like it’s a Friday this year, 50 years later.
I stayed in that apartment all weekend watching everything that was happening. I cried and cried and cried. Finally, a few girlfriends came over and joined me. I told my boyfriend I just couldn’t see him that weekend.
I watched on television the other night as President Obama affixed Medals of Freedom on numerous very special people. That was a medal that President Kennedy wanted to be given out.
When the Civil Rights Act that President Kennedy had worked on was passed after his death by President Lyndon Johnson, I thought what President Johnson said was prophetic:
“President Lincoln said that all men should be free, and 100 years later, President Kennedy said that all men should be equal.”
No – he wasn’t perfect and had flaws as we were to hear about years later, but he was an outstanding man and President in so many ways, and in the eyes of millions of people around the world who admired him and remember with deep sadness that shocking day that left us numb – even scared. Those who lived through those days will never forget him, and the big question is: “What might have been?” had he lived.
I was in a friends house it was so strange i was 11 my friends mother said John Kennedy is dead you had better go straight home it was like a bad storm was coming .i agre Cheryl just this week i was thing he wasent perfct but i think had he lived things would be better
Where was I? I wasn't born yet but my mother remembers it she was in 1st grade and her teacher cried in front of the class.
Thanks Mary and Ingrid. You're right, Mary... "it was like a bad storm was coming" is a good way to put the feelings. And Ingrid, with your mother only in grade 1 and remembering her teacher crying, it shows that even our parents' memories and how they tell them to us leaves a 'forever' imprint.
I was just watching CBC of live coverage taking place in Dallas, the first time in Dallas since President Kennedy was killed. Dallas has borne a heavy burden, someone said, because "it" happened there. It could have happened anywhere, though. When we look at all the people of Dallas shocked and crying that day, how could we blame everyone there? I never thought of it as being that way.
Here's a few pics and CBC link with other interesting coverage and thoughts.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
"People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" -Quote(Maya Angelou)
That quote I feel is so apt for "JFK" , I was only just 6 when he was murdered, but I do remember, as I was with my sister, we were "baby sitting" for our Brothers friend, (well my sister was I was the "tag along")> it was late and we were listening to "Radio Luxembourg" which played all the latest pop hits,
Suddenly an announcement came over the radio, and said President Kennedy had been assassinated , I remember the feeling of shock and sadness, it was one of those feelings, that was tangible, Radio Luxembourg, said it was going off air, as a mark of respect, my sister was crying, I was saying never mind, or something like that.
,(the news didn't reach us until the late evening, it wasn't told until his death was confirmed,> late due to the time difference i guess )
Then our brothers friend and his wife came back, the news had been announced at the club , where they were, and it closed, the feeling was very flat, that was the end of the night, we were taken home, I was asleep & carried to bed, >my parents , and siblings stayed up, and listened to the radio, (our TV programmes finished early back then. I can tell you though, people in Britain & Ireland were extremely upset at hearing that news.
I have often wondered what it would have been like had he lived, I have no doubt he would have been elected again. I have read some beautiful quotes of Bobby's too, so tragic that he was also assassinated, R.I.P. Kennedy Brothers xxxxxx xwendy k xx
Gosh, Wendy -- it goes to show how young we can be and retain memories of certain events that had an impact on us. We may not have been able to understand what everything meant, but we sure can remember the feelings we had and the people around us had. I love that quote by Maya Angelou. It is so true!
Watching the programs in the last week about what happened that day, it reminded me of what t.v. was like in those days. As you said Wendy, television/radio programs were so different then. Apparently the news wasn't done as we see it done today. News anchors didn't stay on the air and broadcast face to face with the people watching. It was strange to see them in the news room mulling about waiting for the next announcement, and smoking cigarettes was really strange! Walter Cronkite (did I spell that right) was the king of news to be trusted at the time.
I sure agree about when Robert Kennedy was also assassinated. It was reliving the nightmare all over again. Very tragic. The Kennedy family suffered the loss of so many of its members -- constant heartache.
What would the world be like now if he had lived? Hard to imagine. But while he was here, a lot of ground breaking events took place.
Just a last little note here. I watched a t.v. show the other night on President Kennedy's trip to IRELAND which he took in June of 1963, only five months before the assassination. It was a happy show, which I didn't expect, as he enjoyed himself so much!
It was different on many levels for him because for one, it was not political, but emotional, to go back to the land of his heritage. He was only three generations removed from Ireland to America (I believe that's what was said).
It was funny when he landed at the airport and got off the plane -- there was dead silence. He stood at the top of the stairs to the plane and by the look on his face he must have been totally taken aback. He looked almost worried and stopped smiling. As it turned out, those in charge in Ireland thought it would be a sign of respect to be silent at the arrival of the first visit of an American president. They all had a good laugh about it later.
He enjoyed himself so much in Ireland. People crowded the streets to see him as he rode in an open car -- standing up! -- so he could wave and see and be seen. It was a security nightmare as he stood shoulder to shoulder with crowds. He went to meet a cousin relative where his great grandfather was born (Kinross? not sure if I got that right). They had tea - actually a tea party with lots of people. Everyone loved his big smile and his warmth. Another thing appreciated by the Irish people was his quick wit. There was a lot of laughter in the air wherever he went.
The following two things are probably not known to a lot of people. (1) When he died he had "a set of rosaries" in his pocket. Jackie had them sent to Ireland (I'm not exactly sure to whom, but they are probably on display somewhere).
(2) When he got back to the U.S. he was asked what impressed him the most in Ireland. It wasn't anything expensive or what most people thought he would say. He said it was the cadets as they went through their manoeuvres. Obviously Jackie heard this because at President Kennedy's funeral she had arranged for a team of Irish cadets to go through their manoeuvres in front of the grave.
It was a beautifully done documentary and left me smiling.
I was 9 and heard the news on the radio, we didn't have a TV yet. I think that was the first time I cried at hearing someone I did not know had died and knew something really bad had happened. Without the TV we did not get that much news in the UK at that time. My parents seemed unfazed at the news.