Senator Elizabeth Warren's Important Values Speech
INTERESTING STUFF – 23 November 2013

Kennedy Assassination

An orgy of remembrance has saturated the media this week leading up to today, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

I'm not so sure about people younger than 40 or 45, but for anyone old enough to recall where they were that day – as old as most readers of this blog - it is the largest public milestone of our lives. Only a handful of others match or come close.

So important is this event to our national psyche that for years and years and years, decades really, we have asked one other how we heard about the shooting of President Kennedy in Dallas.

So let's do that one more time today. I'll go first, although it is an ordinary story.

These 50 years and a gazillion books, movies, conspiracies, government reports, magazine and newspaper stories have dulled my personal memories – it is mostly bare facts that remain.

I was 22 years old, working at a numbingly boring office job in a building on California Street in San Francisco. It was late morning, nearly lunch time when an announcement came over the loudspeaker telling us that the president had been shot and was dead.

We were told to go home, to take the rest of the day off and what I most remember is that when I stepped into the street, newsboys (remember them?) were already hawking an “extra” of the San Francisco Chronicle - eight pages of mostly photographs from Dallas with little text.

November 22 that year was a Friday. I was living in Mill Valley and was too poor to own a television set so I spent a lot of time over the weekend at the bus station watching the TV coverage.

Others gathered there too – undoubtedly many owned television sets but we all, that long weekend, seemed to need to be with other people, even strangers.

I must have been told to stay home from work on Monday 25 November too because I can picture the crush of people in the waiting room of that bus station – all of us with our heads tilted back to see the screen that was mounted eight feet or so above the floor - watching the funeral that day.

And what about you? Where did you hear about the assassination of President Kennedy?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ross Middleton: Keeping Involved


Even here in Canada, it was huge news. I was in grade three, outside for recess, and all of a sudden the school loudspeaker came on blasting the radio news bulletins into the playground. That had never happened before. We all stopped to listen, and even as little kids we knew that something very momentous had happened.

I was pregnant with my last child and had a housekeeper to help before and after the baby was born. We were both in the family room with the TV on when the announcement came. We hugged each other and cried as the news sank in. Not much got done that day, as we glued ourselves to the TV.

I was in Tyler, Texas and in the 8th grade at Roberts Junior High. It was lunch time and everyone was in the busy and noisy cafeteria. I don't recall how the news was given, probably over a loud speaker. I do remember a stillness came over the room and in that sudden silence a young voice said quite clearly, "Good". School was dismissed and my Mother was waiting outside to drive me home. The next several days were spent before the b&w television watching all the coverage.

On the Broadway bus returning home from City College (NY). Just me and the driver and then one or two other passengers. Shocked and numb along the ride home. We watched the unfolding drama-tragedy on a TV recently purchased, long after coming on the market when folks were scooping them up. My mother pronounced, "it will addle your brains" (and so I remember, too, when and from whom I learned this word)!

I knew plenty of TV-free people who watched the funeral in public schools.

Gosh, it was morbid that period. JFK had appeared on the Upper West Side/Broadway and about 96th Street not long before during his presidential campaign. I always think of his brief appearance there when I'm in town and pass by.

I was at work in Rockefeller Center, NYC, talking on the phone to a girlfriend, who was home that day. She had the TV on, and was the one who told me about it when the newsflash came on. Almost immediately, people started gathering in little groups on the streets, many crying.

After 50 years, I still have a hard time watching all the scenes of those days.

P.S. - I was in Mill Valley recently visiting a friend. What a nice little town. However, my friend lives way up a hill, only reached by many narrow, windy roads.

We were living at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia and I heard the news at the hairdresser.

My kids were all in St Mary's School at Fort Monroe and I knew they would close the school immediately so I left with my hair in curlers and drove straight to the school.

I had a terrible time getting into Fort Monroe but my Langley sticker on the car finally convinced the Security Officer at the gate to let me in to pick up my children.

Sure enough the Nuns had closed the school and put the kids in the schoolyard to wait for their parents, but never gave a thought to how those parents were supposed to get into a military base on that fateful day.It was chaos.

When we got home we turned on our little Black and white TV and watched every minute of coverage, including the murder,right before our eyes, of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby on Sunday morning.

We did not turn that TV off until they played The Star Spangled Banner when the services at Arlington were over.

I was at junior high in math class (New Math) when our teacher was called out of the room for a few minutes. When he came back he was visibly disturbed and he announced that President Kennedy had been shot. The class was stunned. Some students were crying. The teacher just asked us to sit quietly. I really don’t remember anything else about that day except watching Walter Cronkite and CBS evening news.

I was in high school in Canada, I had turned 15 the day before. The announcement over the PA system left everyone speechless. We were told we should go home but many of us stood outside the school in small groups trying to comprehend the enormity of it.

I was 24 and living in Beaumont, Texas. I had a one week old baby, and was napping when my husband burst in the door from work early in the afternoon. He told me that the president had been shot and believed to be dead. My first thought was that we don't assassinate people in this country. --And next I wondered who the next president would be. Took me a while to remember that Lyndon Johnson was VP.

I remember seeing JFK in Waterbury Connecticut while running for office. I was in high school. Years later, as a young office worker, I went during lunch to visit my girlfriend who worked at Merrill Lynch. In those days, news flashes came across a ticker tape - that's how we found out. And like the others, I spent many days in my little studio glued to the black and white TV. Still vivid in my memory.

I posted my recollection of that day on my blog. Hope this doesn't violate your code about self-promotion.

I was 19 years old and was at work when a coworker came in and announced that the President was dead. We also were sent home. The next memory that I have is of me ironing and watching the funeral on the TV and just falling apart and sobbing when John John saluted his father as the caisson went by. I had met President Kennedy when he came to Buffalo during his stumping for President in 1960 and was an enthralled teenager.

I was thirteen, in seventh grade in San Antonio, Texas, and a big fan of this young and vibrant President and First Lady, with their small children who were often photographed in the President's office. They seemed like such a happy, charmed family and they seemed to create such a sense of promise for the country. The day before the assassination, they had been in San Antonio, and I had been allowed to miss school in order to stand with the rest of the crowd that had gathered to view their motorcade as it went through town. I had been just a few feet from them, as I stood on the curb in front of the H.E.B. grocery store,just a short distance from my house. The next day, while I was in math class,the teacher was called to the office. When he returned he told us the President had been shot in Dallas. The office broadcast the radio news over the classroom intercom system for a while and then school was dismissed early. I remember sobbing all the way home, along with many of my friends. It seemed so surreal,having just seen them, the day before, alive and smiling and waving, the day before. It was difficult to understand and accept how such a thing could have happened. As I recall, our television was rarely turned off for several days after that, and the ensuing events with Jack Ruby and Oswald added to the bizarre situation. So much seemed to change with that tragedy. Looking back, I have always felt that it was the end of the innocence.

I was in Kemmerer, Wyoming taking movies of my 3 year old daughter when the telephone rang and my husband, who was managing the radio station, told me the President had been shot. I couldn't believe it and thought he must be wrong. I turned the TV on to see the chaotic confusion in Dallas and was in shock.

My little girl had been twirling to make her full skirt stand out and I can still see that image to this day. Some memories are so strong that you can never forget them.

My daughter could not understand why I stopped photographing her, but she knew something very sad had happened.

Kind of interesting that 3 of the 12 of us who have commented here, so far, were living in Texas during that time.

I asked this question last Friday on this entry:

My husband, after a poke or two, answered Lahore Pakistan.

I too was working at a truly numbing job of counting money for the Feds in LA. I was just coming out of the cafeteria lunch line with half an avo in my hand french dressing in the middle. Someone told me about Kennedy, and I thought they were joking.

Yes, we had a tiny black and white portable TV, and yes we were glued to it all weekend long. We too must have been given a few days off because I still remember the cortege and Arlington.

Now I will go read all your notes and go to work at my retirement job. :)

I was studying art at the univerity, but on that afternoon I was sitting in a salon chair, having my hair streaked, when news of the shooting came on the radio. The street seemed deserted when I left, and, stunned and not knowing what else to do, I walked to the art building to complete work on a project. A few minutes later, the chair of the department walked into the studio and told me the President was dead. We were apparently the only two people in the building, and at that moment we were grateful for each other's company.

I was stunned by the comment by Judy above...because I too was in 8th grade and after the announcement over the loudspeaker I too remember a classmate saying "Good"!!
In retrospect, I remember clearly how Kennedy was not popular with everyone....until the assassination. The classmates who said "Good" were undoubtedly parroting something they heard at home. My Mother actually did like Kennedy before the assassination. She began respecting him big time after the Cuban crisis. (Up until that time, she was dubious). Another strong memory is that my 8th grade art teacher did a magnificent series of paintings about Kennedy ...I wish I knew what became of the art teacher or those paintings.

I was 18, in my 3rd month of nursing school. A stranger on the street told me about the assassination as I was returning to the dorm for my lunch break. Back at the dorm, I assumed classes were canceled. At 2 PM, a call came, classes were being held. Our nursing instructor told us that when you are in the hospital and something bad happens, you just can’t leave. The shock, the sadness combined with the realization of adult responsibilities made that day a turning point in my life.

Sterling Park,VA was home for
my family of 4...Son was 14,
and daughters were 9, 3 and 1 yrs old. I was 32 and a very
busy Mom...

Probably we had a TV...don't

Sterling Park is considered
a D.C. suburb as it is only
a few miles west.

It was indeed a tear shedding time for the citizens of the U.S. I most remember all the news footage that we have seen all this week...

PS: As a teen, my family of origin lived about half-way up the east side of Mt. Tamalpias in Mill Valley, CA... I attended the Mt. Tam high school...

I was in 8th grade and we were in the locker room after gym class. Our tough gym teacher came into the room in tears and we knew something was very wrong. She gave us the news. I don't recall if we all cried, I think so. I can't remember if we stayed for afternoon classes or went home. I do remember watching the funeral on TV, that it felt unreal, like it couldn't really be happening.

I was 16 and a junior in high school, sitting in Algebra II class. Suddenly the PA system came alive and we began hearing a news report. The high school officials didn't make any announcement;they just let us listen in on what reporters were saying.

Eventually Walter Cronkite announced that the president was dead. All I remember was being stunned. These things didn't happen--not here. They happened in other countries, or a long time ago. How could it be possible?

My best friend--who was Catholic and a big fan of Kennedy--was crying on the bus going home. The school was closed for the funeral, and I watched everything on TV.

I was in 10th grade, in French class, and an announcement came over the loudspeaker and then we were sent home early. My parents were staunch, conservative Republicans--shocked of course but not saddened--but my older sister, bro-in-law, and cousin and I were all sad. We drove overnight from southern Ohio to Washington to watch the funeral first-hand.

I was in gym class, and I remember the PA announcement but where I was standing I could not hear it clearly. What I remember is some of the other girls in the class bursting into tears. I was in Geometry (10th grade) when the announcement that the President was dead came. Our teacher, a man close to retirement age, talked gently about the seriousness of the event. I don't remember what he said, but it helped to listen to his calm voice. I remember too that our school did not cancel that night's basketball game - but attendance was sparse and there wasn't much noise.

I was in my chemistry class at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. We had a test that day, which may be why there was no announcement in class. Shortly afterward I was up at Campus Corner and overheard some people talking about the president being shot. I couldn't believe they meant THE president. I ran back to my rooming house and found everyone gathered around the TV. We barely moved for the next four days.

I was in my high school English class. The p.a. system came on and the principal screamed, "Kennedy has been shot". (This was a Catholic school, so all the more significant to us.) She was nearly out of control, her tone one of panic and fear.

School adjourned early, the evening's basketball game was cancelled and we gathered at a friend's, numbly watching TV.

I too wrote a blog post about that day, it was probably the seminal event of our generation.

I was in Lincoln, NE, where my husband was a grad. student. I had a 16 mo old baby and was 6 mos. pregnant. Tired and busy. I hope it's OK to not actually remember how I heard the news. All I do remember is the overwhelming feeling of despair and disbelief, horror and helplessness.

I was living in Cairo, Egypt. No TV or radio. A downstairs neighbor rang our bell at about 8 pm Cairo time and said "the president is dead". We thought she was talking about Nasser. It took a few minutes to sink in that such an event could happen to our country and that it was our president. I was offered condolences by many people in the street where their shock was as great as ours.

Well, it was Saturday morning where I was of course. I had just gone to the bathroom to have a shower, taking along my little transistor radio as was my wont then (and still is). I had just got a lather up when they broke into the program with the news flash.

I was in my late 20's with a toddler at home, 3 children in school and my youngest daughter not yet born.
Recently finished a home on a beautiful farm and remember hearing it on the radio and eyes filling with tears and feeling very sad and today when checking weather and it came on about that day - my eyes filled with tears again...

What is clearest in my memory is sitting for days in front of our Capehart TV with my strong, brave, dignified father as he sobbed.

I was in Junior High School in the Bronx and I remember hearing the news at the bus stop while we were waiting to go home. I don't know if we were let out early without the administration telling us why...or if it was normal going home time. They didn't tell us in school. And then we, too, spent the weekend watching the television.

I was 23 ,working as a mfgr rep for a paper products mfgr. I was in Melrose Park, Ill, a suburb ofChicago. My customer and I were having lunch at Jimmy's Spaghetti House when I casually looked up at the television. I saw Walter Kronkeite (sp) and there was a look that spelled fear or danger in his demeanor. I shouted quiet to the whole restaurant. "There's something wrong going on"--exactly what I could not tell. Surprisingly, everyone stopped talking. He said the President had been shot. Moments later he said he was dead.
We left the restaurant and I decided it might be wise to go downtown to my office to confer with my bosses. Instinctively , I knew business as usual would stop. My office was at State Street and Wacker, the heart of the north end of the Loop of Chicago. I came out of the parking garage and was greeted by grown men and women crying or dazed. Several people were leaning against the walls of my office building with handkerchiefs at their faces. As I entered the 10th floor office,I was greeted by a somber office staff. Only one salesman had some comment that would follow his life forever. He agreed with the killing--he hated Kennedy. This man was let go about 6 months later--no reason was ever stated.
I went home to find my wife cradling our 2 month old first born son. We talked, we cried and we knew our country would never be the same. We followed through with our plan to take a local orphan boy home with us for a weekend of fun. How disappointing for him.

I too was not in the country - my then-husband and I were living in a small village outside of Bad Kreuznach, in Germany, where he was doing his army time. We had been married about a year, I was teaching German to reluctant soldiers [who had been "volunteered" for German lessons], some of whom hated it so much that they pulled knives on me.. We came back to our village from work that evening, and word had come through -- our landlord and -lady, in tears, met us outside and told us. I remember very little else. We were so far away, and I longed to be home. I never heard anyone say "good" upon hearing the news -- but later on the son of a friend told me that he had been in a room in northern MN with a bunch of carpenters, and they cheered and laughed at the news. Ah my.

I was twelve years old in math class when the principal announced over the intercom that the Friday night sock hop was to be canceled. He did not say why.
A few minutes later, memos were delivered to each teacher, and teachers told their students that President Kennedy was dead.

I was a kid who was disappointed about the school dance cancellation. Maybe I was in shock because I did not comprehend the significance of this until later on in the weekend when Mom made my sister and me sit in front of our tiny portable television set to watch the proceedings. Mom told us that this was something we would never forget.
A couple of days later we watched as Jack Ruby killed Oswald. I remember thinking that this was not really happening.
Times were innocent then especially to me a girl who lived in a small town in Michigan.

I was in the 5th grade, attending a one-room country school with no phone and no radio. They must have dismissed school at the "town school", because an older brother of one of the kids brought us a radio (had to be transistor, we had no electrical outlets). What really stays with me was my dad making us sit and watch the news on television, and saying "this is history in the making" for the next few days. We were in Sunday School when Oswald was shot, but he was at home glued to the set. We heard about it as soon as we walked in the door.

I was coming down the stairs after a college class when a student yelled out, "The President has been shot!" My first thought was the college president, but all too soon I found out the reality. My mind wandered to a few summers before when I was a "mother's helper" in Hyannisport, living a few blocks from the Kennedy compound, seeing Robert's kids riding bikes to the corner store, swimming at a beach club next to the compound and suddenly realizing what an enormous tragedy had just taken place.

I'm a Canadian but the news hit hard here as we had high hope for what Kennedy would do for your country. I was in my freshman year and walking from class at University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon when I was approached and told the grim news. The common rooms at residence had TV sets and these rooms were crammed all w/end as we tried to digest what this meant for the world as we knew it.

I was at home with my 18 month old son. We lived on one side of a duplex and a family from Dallas lived on the other side. I don't know that they were Kennedy fans since they were republicans, but they nevertheless were shocked especially so since the assassination happened in their home town.

Like Nancy, we were glued to our televisions for the duration. We say Ruby kill Oswald and the cortege going down Pennsylvania Ave. and the ceremony at Arlington. We watched it all in disbelief. The haunting drums of the cortege will be with me always.

I was fifteen and a junior at Wichita Heights High School in Wichita, KS, had just finished lunch and was heading toward Journalism (Yearbook) class. Other students came running down the hall and yelling that the President had been shot. I went on to class and we all stood around and cried, even the teacher. Then the PA system came on and it was announced that the President had been shot and that classes were dismissed for the day.

I drove home along with my younger sister and two paying riders -- all of us crying.

Our black-and-white TV was on all weekend, but I don't remember my mom or dad watching it. I was crying, nearly non-stop, and my mother finally asked me, "Why are you crying? He's just a politician."

I couldn't explain to her what a hero he was to me. His stance on civil rights, the Peace Corps, the Poverty Program... All of it reverberated with me and I greatly admired him and his politics.

However, my parents were staunch Republicans, even though we were Catholic, so I doubt they ever understood my grief.

That was the weekend of magical thinking for me. The event was played and replayed on TV over and over. I kept thinking - this time it would end differently. And it never did.

Pure shock and disbelief.

This was the first major public event which I remember--age 19, in the car en route to go ride one of my dad's horses near Gainesville, FL. I heard it on the radio and turned around, returned home and woke up my napping
parents to tell them. Don't recall any emotion other than shock. Remember sitting in front of the TV watching the funeral while studying for an organic chemistry final exam in college.

We were in DC and my mother had taken my sister and me(9 and 11)to see "Lawrence of Arabia". As we left the theater, we noticed that there was an unusual amount of traffic for that time of day; when we entered our house, we realized my father was home from work in the afternoon and that, in and of itself, scared us. I remember him saying "The President has been shot" and we all sat down to watch the tv and then we heard the confirmation that he was dead. And we were all crying hard and feeling very lost and confused. I remembered those moments on September 9th, 2001, when I watched the tv with my children in the afternoon and experienced those sensations of disbelief and horror with them.

As horrible as that day was, I'd have to disagree that it was THE most important one in our lives. I'd say that awful distinction belongs to 9/11.

I was in high school, grade eleven, when the principal told us over the intercom, that President Kennedy had been shot and killed.

He told us all to go home.

I remember walking home crying with my America friend who had moved here in grade eight.

We walked and cried. Arrived home and watched the news for days.

Couldn't get it off my mind.

I was 7 years old and my own father had died suddenly only a few days earlier. I don't recall the actual day the president was shot, but I do remember sitting on the living room floor the day they televised his funeral, enthralled. I was thinking about the president's children, who I knew were now the same as me. On that day we were forever bound, in my mind. Coincidental, my name is now Kennedy.

I was working part time as an AAA (auto club) road service dispatcher while going to college. Coming from a family of staunch republicans, my parents were sure I was en route to being a 'red commie' when I opted to work at the Kennedy campaign headquarters in Los Angeles. My first real exposure to politics, it was the start of a lifetime of interest in the political scene.

In any case, I was on the telephone taking information from a man whose car had broken down on the Ventura Freeway. -I'm sure the freeway has a number now but back then each freeway had a name instead of a number. He had walked to a bar on Ventura Blvd and was watching the little black and white TV in the bar when it was announced on TV.

He asked me if I was sitting down-I'll never forget how kind he was-then he gently told me the president had been shot and killed and to forget about sending a tow truck..he was getting a cab and going home and would call back later.

We pulled the break room TV into our dispatch office, I remember college classes were closed that evening and I had the weekend off.

Los Angeles was so quiet that weekend - the roads were empty and driving home from work I spotted the man who I was talking to car still sitting on the Ventura Freeway 5 hours were usually towed off right away by the CHP for safety but things were so different that weekend..and for days afterward.

And, for the person who felt that 9/11 was the most significant thing to happen in our generation, for me, personally, and as tragic as 9/11 was still Kennedys murder impacted me in a much more personal way than 9/11.

I was a Navy Brat, a freshman in a Catholic High School, when classes were canceled and we were all told to walk across the street to the church for a special mass, where the priest told us of the assassination of OUR PRESIDENT. 50 YEARS!!! and I'm still crying!!!

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