On November 22,1963, I woke in the morning and dressed for school. I walked the mile to my middle school. After lunch, the principal came on the PA system and told us that President Kennedy had been shot. I remember sitting at my desk and all of us just staring at each other. Our words were not there. Then the announcement that John F. Kennedy was dead. Silence and then the sound of crying. I don’t think we understood what the death of a President would mean to our country. The the class president got on the PA system and led us in the Lord’s Prayer.
The principal then announced that school was closed and we were all to go straight home. We did that with the movements of a robot. I walked my mile home and when I got home, I turned on my black and white television. I still was crying. Walter Cronkite even cried on camera as he told the American people we had lost our beloved President.
America watched their televisions for the remainder of the day. Slowly the numbness eased and we began to feel anger and grief. We wanted to do something. There was nothing to do so we sat and watched history unfold around us. I was watching when Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald. I was in shock again. Would this nightmare ever end? Vice President Johnson took the oath of office with Jackie standing next to him on Air Force One. Everyone was on their way back to Washington.
The President was taken to the hospital and at that point he was barely alive. But they couldn’t do anything for him. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was dead and so was Camelot. We feared WWIII and we were confused and so worried about America. But we still had Robert Kennedy and he would hold it all together. But he was Attorney General and not President. He was there at Jackie’s side for support and comfort.
Our world had changed. A country was devastated with grief. A young widow and two small children had lost their father. Rest in Peace, John, Jackie and John. We will never forget.
–Photos from Life Magazine and elsewhere