Monday, November 22, 2010

November 22, 1963

I was 8 years old and in third grade.  In 1963, grammar schools in our area didn't have lunchrooms; you had one hour to go home, eat, and get back to school.  Since I lived only two blocks from school, my usual M.O. was to race home, eat, watch Bozo's Circus until after the grand prize game, race back to school, and still have plenty of time to play a rousing game of 4 square before afternoon class.  Eight year olds have a LOT of energy.  On this particular Friday afternoon, Bozo was interrupted with an emergency bulletin.  I knew it must be big to break in on Bozo.  The newscaster said that the President had been shot in Dallas, and that the situation was very grave.  I asked my mom what grave meant and she didn't answer, so I turned and looked at her; she was staring at the T.V. and finally said it was "very bad news."  I prayed as I ran back to school; I prayed for the man who was a father, I prayed for his two young children, and I prayed for his pretty wife.  My own father was a police officer and I had never once worried about his safety.  He was strong and he protected others so who would want to hurt him?  I began to realize that if someone could hurt the President, someone could hurt my dad, too. I quickly pushed that thought away and went into class. The teachers seemed upset and I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.  A little after 1PM, our principle came on the intercom and announced that President Kennedy had died.  What happened next will be forever etched on my heart.  Dan C. sat in the desk in front of me and the instant we heard the news, he dropped to his knees, crossed himself, and began praying.  We went to public school.  Even in 1963 you didn't pray in public school, but Dan did, and his genuine, heartfelt response is the image that comes to mind when I remember that awful day.  We were dismissed early and I cried as I walked home from school.  I cried for his children, I cried for his pretty wife, and I cried for myself, too.  A Dallas police officer was shot and died while trying to catch the man who killed the president. That was the day I started praying for my dad's safety.  


  1. I also remember 11/22/63. I was working my first full time job at Roosevelt University when I heard the news. I had worked for the Kennedy campaign in high school, doing scut work. My first and only involvement in politics. I was devasted with the news of the shooting.

  2. Thanks for sharing your comment, Linda. Even people who didn't support Kennedy were horrified. My father was a die hard Republican but also a Catholic...quite a dilemma. He did vote for Nixon but took pride in the fact that a Catholic was in office. From an eight year old's perspective it seemed like the world stopped as our nation prepared to bury the president. It also seemed like the beginning of the end of innocence. The years that followed added to the tally of senseless deaths to the point where an assassination or attempt isn't the shock it was in 1963. How sad.


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