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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Killing Kennedy

Killing Kennedy

Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly is the title of the newest addition to my personal reading collection. I have always had a special interest on anything written about the 35th President of the United States, President John F. Kennedy. Our nation was unified in shock and grief on November 22, 1963. Anyone that lived through that infamous day has the moment etched in their memory, I know I do.

Friday November 22, 1963 started like any other Friday, with the anticipation of the weekend to be followed by the Thanksgiving Holiday being the only difference. I don't remember the exact time but I do remember that it was early morning, not long after school started (sometime after 10 am).  I was looking forward to a normal day of classes, and making plans for the weekend when all of a sudden the routine of the classroom was interrupted; The Principal’s voice came over the intercom system. 

There were usually two or three musical notes that preceded the voice message, not unlike a musical doorbell.  This time we heard a crackle over the intercom almost like fumbling with the microphone. That was the first thing that was different about the interruption, the second thing I noticed is that the principal never delivered the message himself.  His voice sounded very different from the person of authority that he always projected. He was almost apologetic in delivering the news, with a quivering voice he began; we just got a report from the school district administration office that our president, President John F. Kennedy has been shot while in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas.  He has been rushed to the hospital and is being attended to.  A short time later we were informed that the president was dead.

Everyone in the room was stunned, and some started to cry out loud, even our teacher was shaken and red eyed.  I was supposed to be one of the tough guys in the school, and I couldn’t control the tears welling from my eyes.  I felt lost I didn’t know what to think, and I wasn’t sure what might happen next.  I certainly didn’t want my class mates to see me lose control, and for once I didn’t feel that I had a leadership role in helping bring calm to my fellow students.  A radio was apparently placed in front of the open microphone in the office carrying the news broadcast throughout the school as it developed.

Since I didn’t feel that anyone was in control I left the classroom, walked down the hall and straight out of the building to my car in the student parking lot.  The first thing I did before leaving the area was to find a strong radio station that I could clearly listen to, for the developing story.  My family loved and respected President Kennedy so much that I felt a need to rush home and be near my mother to comfort her.  The 15 miles between town where my high school was and home must have been a difficult drive but all I can remember is that I had tears streaming down my face.  It’s not easy to write this portion because after all tough guys of any age don’t cry.  I arrived home to find my mother crying in front of the television set.

The perceived American Dream doesn’t have tragedy of this level in it, so it was a rude awakening for the country and the world.  The next two weeks were filled with being glued to the television set and included the live coverage of the assassination of Oswald by Ruby.  The country since that time has made progress in many areas, including medicine, technology, and space exploration to name a few but I feel that society has regressed in the area of crime and violence in general.  We have become indifferent and much less caring for one another. I know that this terrible tragedy in American History changed me, and I’m not sure that I can explain how.  I guess one way that I changed, is that from that incident on, I always expect the unexpected.

I still have high hopes for our country, and believe that our best days are ahead of us, and that is why I always say; the best is yet to come…..

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