Saturday, November 22, 2003

Remembering November 22, 1963

I can't believe that it's been 40 years since JFK was assassinated. It's one of those times when you can remember exactly where you were when you heard the news.

I was in the 4th grade and was leaving school when one of the older boys (who apparently had a transistor radio) shouted out, "The president's been shot!" Well, even at nine years of age I didn't believe everything I heard and couldn't (wouldn't?) believe that such a thing could happen. I got home and started to tell my Dad what I heard when I saw the news on TV.

The next few days are blurred. The next thing I clearly remember is when Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby. My friend Kathy and I were in my room playing when my Mom yelled "Debbie! Kathy! Come here! Come here! He's been shot!" We looked at each other then ran out into the living room. Of course by that time all the action was over and all we saw at that point would have been people moving around, and Oswald being taken by stretcher to the hospital. Then, the endless speculation about what had happened, questioning of people on the scene to find out what happened, and endless retelling of what had happened.

At nine if it didn't immediately impact my life, it didn't really matter much. I don't remember much about those days. I don't remember seeing my parents terribly upset. They were as horrified as the rest of the nation, but they wouldn't have let me see that. They would have kept my world as "normal" as possible. The other things I remember from that time (the funeral, Jackie in her black veil) are things I saw then, but probably really remember because they were repeated so many times over the years.

I don't know who actually fired the bullet that killed JFK - I wonder if we will ever know. Aside from the justice angle, does it really matter now, after all these years? JFK was cut down in his prime before he could do all the things I'm sure he had planned, not just for America, but personally. Sure, he did, and could have done, many things to impact American life and they are important. I have to wonder how much different America would be - what would life be like had JFK served out his first term and been elected to a second? Where would we be as a nation today?

But also remember what he didn't do: he didn't get to grow old. He didn't get to see his kids grow up. He never saw his grandkids. Aren't these the things that are really important in life? And this is the real tragedy of that day.

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