22 November 2013

50 years ago today...

I remember exactly where I was.  I was on my high school's debate team and we were off at a tournament.  For practical reasons, our coach always drove us to tournaments; he would then serve as a judge on some of the debates not involving us, and we would all gather after the last debate of the day in some barren classroom to hear the results announced and get feedback on our performances. 

On that day, after the last afternoon debate, he didn't meet us.  After a brief search, we found him in his car, listening to the news on the car radio, in tears.  The news itself was startling, but the sight of encountering one of the pillars of the school faculty, our history teacher, unabashedly crying made the moment surreal for me.

As I was writing this, I decided to look up the National Forensic League's official debate topic for that year.  I remembered speaking as Second Affirmative, but didn't remember the topic.  Here it is:
Resolved: That Social Security benefits should be extended to include complete medical care.
Wow.  How's that for a relevance stretching half a century into the future.  I wish I still had my file box of 3x5 cards.

Readers who have sharp memories of 11/22/63 are welcome to offer them in the Comments.


  1. My sophomore English class in high school meets after lunch. That particular day, before we had gotten too far in the lesson, the intercom broke in with an announcement. My teacher then went to a corner of the classroom, apparently crying for some reason. Since I, being hearing-impaired, couldn't understand what came over the intercom, I asked a classmate about it. She said, "The President's been shot."
    School was then dismissed for the day.

  2. I was 6 years old and in school of course. I remember the announcement and we children being dismissed to the playground to await buses to go home early. We were all crying although none of us knew much. It was a very lost sort of feeling. An older girl came and sat with some of young ones and she told us what a good man he was.

  3. My daughter was watching cartoons on TV (Felix the Cat), when she called me because the picture changed. I moved her away, and sat there in disbelief. I was a Republican at the time, and no fan of John Kennedy, but he was the President of the United States. I was shaken to the core, and I'll never forget it.

  4. I was fifteen and a junior at Wichita Heights High School, Wichita, KS, and on my way from lunch to Journalism (yearbook) class when some students came running down the hall, yelling that the President had been shot in Dallas. I continued on to class and we all stood around crying, well, all the girls and our teacher were crying, maybe not the boys... There was an announcement over the intercom that school was dismissed for the day and that we should all go home.

    I drove my '53 Chevy home. My passengers were my younger sister and two girls who regularly rode back and forth to school with me for $5 a week. That helped me pay for gas.

    My part-time job was cancelled that weekend because The Forum Cafeteria closed that weekend because of the assassination. I cried nearly all weekend. At one point my mother asked me, "Why are you crying? He was just a politician."

    I could never explain that he was a hero of mine, I admired his stance on civil rights, poverty in the U.S. (War on Poverty), the Job Corp, the Peace Corps, pulling the troops out of Viet Nam, etc. Who knows how our world would be today had he lived...

    We had no school on Monday and I watched the funeral. I was touched by John-John's salute to his father. My parents were staunch Republicans even though we were Catholic -- after all, we lived in Kansas. It was a terrible thing to happen and I do not think I've ever gotten over it.

  5. I was 22 at the time, and living in Montreal. I was in Eaton's, trying on a lovely red winter coat, when one of the staff came over and told the clerk who was helping me that Kennedy had been shot. We all stood in stunned silence for a moment, but of course the event didn't have the same impact on us Canadians as it would on any American; after a brief discussion about how awful a thing to happen, we went about our immediate business. It was only as further information gradually came out that day and the following days that we recognized the full horror of the shooting.

  6. I'll have to link to mine. I was only six, and living in Detroit, having moved there from Fort Worth only 6 months prior.
    Click here

  7. 50 years ago I was 15 years from taking a human form.

  8. I was 3 years old... this is my first memory.

  9. I was in the fifth grade at Brighton Elementary School in Seattle. I still remember the teachers crying and the shock we all felt. We were dismissed from school, and I remember watching the coverage all afternoon on TV.

  10. Sorry this is late. I did not think to come here on Nov 22. A unique experience, I think:

    I was a freshman in high school. I'd just had lunch with a bunch of kids, one of whom was a girl named Vicky Kennedy, and whose mother was a teacher in the school. We were beginning to leave the cafeteria when someone came running, saying excitedly, "Someone shot Kennedy!"

    I asked, "Who would shoot Mrs Kennedy?!"

    The rest you would know.

    But then, I went to my next class, and of course everything normal was not happening. The teacher left the room for a bit. The kids were all talking loudly, when an announcement came over that the President had died. I was the only one in the room who seemed to notice it; everyone else just kept talking loudly. I thought "What in the hell is the matter with these kids?" I can't recall if I cried or not, but I know that no one else in the room did.

    I was one of the millions who saw Oswald get shot, but just barely. I had just walked into the room and just looked at the screen when "BANG!"

    I was one of the earlier readers on the assassination, beginning in about 1966. I've read scores of books on the subject. My opinion is that the Warren Report was a cover-up, mostly with good motives. IMHO Oswald, who had a had a very Top Secret clearance in the Marines, had become a spook (though not with the CIA), which was why he had gone to Russia, and had nothing to do with the hit, but was set up by higher-up spooks. He had been told it was a different type of operation. There was a pre-planned cover-up that had to include the CIA and the Secret Service, but I think the actual hit was a hired gun. Ruby was hired through the Chicago Mob, and was assigned to kill both the shooter (he did, about an hour afterward), and to kill the patsy, too. Oswald was too smart, and he would have eventually squealed about what he knew about who was involved, and that could have led to the planners. I am pretty certain that Ruby already knew he was dying of cancer, and I think he did it to help his family out. He had nothing to lose; he knew he would be a goner once he shot the patsy. Who hired the hit man? Too many groups had motives and the capacity to do it, and any of them could have created the opportunity, so I don't know, and probably never will. But there was more than one shooter - and I doubt any of them was in the Book Depository. They had set up the "sniper's nest" to incriminate Oswald; an actual shooter there would have complicated things.


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