November 22, 1963

vbu3dlo9x6yb

In memory of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, the women of Midlife Boulevard have dedicated November’s blog hop to our reflections on President John Kennedy. A blog hop is when a group of bloggers write on the same subject. Click on the link at the end of this post to read the other posts by my fellow writers.

 

For most people, November 22, 1963 is a momentous date in history— for many, it is one that they’ve read about in books and learned about in documentaries. But for those of us who are over 50, we have our own personal history connected with the shattering events of that day. It is a Baby Boomer touchstone…Where were you when you heard that Kennedy had been shot? 

If you were born in the late ’40’s or the 50’s, the answer would have to be in school—after all, it was a Friday afternoon. And that’s where I was. Specifically (and ironically?), I was in History class.

Our teacher was interrupted by someone at the door, who did not enter the classroom. Mr. Markowitz, a wonderful teacher, a student of history and a man of great heart, stepped just outside the door. When he turned around to face us, he was visibly shaken and openly weeping into his hands—beholding our male teacher in such a state was startling, indeed. Choking out the words, he told us that the President had been shot…and killed.

No TVs were brought into the classroom. No parents were called. No grief counselors were brought in. We were summarily dismissed and told to go home. While walking home, I passed construction workers. How they could be working and life continuing on as though nothing had happened?! I felt like screaming the news at them, but I didn’t. I just hurried home.

I was old enough to grasp the enormity of what had happened and young enough to follow my family’s (all staunch Kennedy supporters) lead; so, I knew that we were witnesses to history. For the next four days, the television in our den was our family’s hub and the source for all our immediate news. In fact, there was no other programming until Tuesday.

All those now–iconic images flashed across the TV screen for the first time: the swearing-in ceremony of President Johnson, the procession with the riderless horse, John-John saluting his father’s casket, Jackie and Caroline kneeling at the flag-draped coffin in Arlington National Cemetery, Jackie kissing the casket and the many more images sealed into our collective consciousness. We watched— along with the world—Jacqueline Kennedy, a newly grieving 34-year-old widow, conduct herself with great grace and dignity and set a tone for the nation.

On Sunday, we watched the live coverage of Lee Harvey Oswald being transferred to the Dallas County Jail when, in a shocking development, he was gunned down in the basement of the Dallas City Jail by nightclub owner, Jack Ruby. I understood there would be no more answers from Oswald.

I remember watching former President Eisenhower speak and, as a child, finding comfort in his familiar presence— a reminder of a more innocent time.

We listened as the pundits spoke of the end of Camelot and quoted the lyrics from President Kennedy’s favorite song (according to Jackie) from the musical about King Arthur’s realm:

Don’t let it be forgot,

that once there was a spot,

for one brief shining moment,

that was known as Camelot.

Through it all, we watched news anchor Walter Cronkite—reporting and recapping, commenting and explaining— on CBS; he seemed to be working day and night during that stretch of time.

When I needed a break, I withdrew into my bedroom (in the adjoining room) and wrote in my journal, where I could express myself freely and try to process what was going on around me…which were things that no one could really make sense of, regardless their age and education. I wish I could read those entries today, but that journal is long gone.

This is a Blog Hop!

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Advertisements

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 thoughts on “November 22, 1963

  1. Helene Bludman November 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm Reply

    We all remember the details so clearly.it amazes me that I can recall so much about those few days.

    • belindambrock November 24, 2013 at 3:57 pm Reply

      Yes, the details that surround an event of great impact really stay with you. thanks for stopping by, Helene.

  2. kaylynnweightchronicles November 22, 2013 at 5:48 pm Reply

    It struck me that Oswald’s murder might have the first televised shooting. That must have been surreal! Thanks for sharing what it was like to remember it all (I was just 4).

    • belindambrock November 24, 2013 at 4:00 pm Reply

      It was surreal, Kaylynn! Thanks for visiting.

  3. thegenaboveme November 23, 2013 at 7:17 am Reply

    I was too young (only 22 months old) but I keep reading from the older boomers about the vigil around the television. I didn’t know that Ruby’s shooting of Oswald was caught live on television. Wow. That must have been incredibly shocking. What a wild set of events over those few days.

    • belindambrock November 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm Reply

      Yes, beyond shocking; the only mitigating factor was that it was a shared experience (as Sharon Greenthal talks about in her post) within families. Glad to see you here.

  4. Grandma Kc November 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm Reply

    A wonderful post — we have certainly lived through some interesting times.

    • belindambrock November 24, 2013 at 4:10 pm Reply

      Thanks, Kc. I would certainly agree, though perhaps those living in other times felt the same.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s