What are your recollections of November 22, 1963, when news emerged of President John F. Kennedy's assassination?

I'm of a younger generation, born more than a decade after JFK's death, but I'm always enthralled by the vivid memories of people who were around on that day and their abilities to recall exactly where they were and what they were doing.

Tags: JFK, News, United States

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I was a pupil at Notre Dame Grammar School, in New Hyde Park, N.Y., in third grade. Sister Dorissa was our teacher, and at some point during the school year I fell in love with this woman -- my first crush, smitten by her warmth and dazzling smile. I was 10 then and she about 22. As you can see there was ferment in the air that year.

When JFK was shot, an announcement went out on the schools PA system and I'm sure we we paused to pray for our President. I do remember feeling uneasy then, if not frightened. I think in retrospect the president was another father figure for me, and if he was this vulnerable, God help us all! At 46 then, JFK was only a little older than my Dad (above, circa 1963). I think we kids were shaken by the news, but I don't recall anyone gasping or crying, at least not in my sight. I think the world just became darker to me, thinking back, with a touch more menace and uncertainty. I remember the comic, Vaughan Meader, who did the spot-on imitation of JFK, making so many laugh, and thought too how sad that we would likely never be able to laugh at his mimicry, with that day's loss of this remarkably handsome and hope-inspiring man with the distinctive accent. Ger

A Babe in arms.

Loving arms, at that! Love those freckles!

I have one of Vaughan Meader's albums doing Kennedy.

Treasure it, Jean. We had several, and never again played them. I think they are long discarded. Not sure if this was in deference or simply momentum forward. My sense is that the humor just wouldn't have worked for us in the years that followed.

I was in bed when I heard a neighbor come into our house with the news. We had no radio or television and my father left to go to our neighbors who had a radio. This was in Ireland in a somewhat remote area in Cavan. My father was so proud of JFK and the news hit him hard. There was one family in the parish who had a television and in the next few days their house was the place to visit and watch the news. I was eleven and the oldest of seven children. We were admonished not to bother our neighbors who had the TV during this time. So it was in listening to conversations and reading the Sunday paper that I learned about the assassination and Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. For decades to follow I would say that in almost every house in the countryside there was a framed photo of Kennedy (next to a photo of the Pope) prominently displayed. The Irish people loved the Kennedys and were so proud of JFK.

I was a sophomore at Fordham University in the Bronx, Just coming into the locker room from a practice cross-country run, I noticed a group crowded around a radio in the trainer's room, all looking grim.  I asked what was going on and was told the President had been shot. My other strong memory of that weekend, besides being glued to the television set, was that when the Giants football game was going ahead, a Jesuit offered his ticket to a student. The one who accepted was strongly criticized by all of his student colleagues.

And I was a freshman at Fordham University in the Bronx.  I was leaving the Business School building after a class, and a guy was parked in a white convertible in front of the building.  He had the top down and the radio on.  That's how I heard the news.

By the way, I've been to Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas a couple of times in the last few years.  It's a place every American should visit.

You're right, Jack. The Sixth Floor Museum is a very moving experience.

Mike, who won? (Trick question, from one journalist to another!) :-)

Forgive me for I fear this will cover a bit more than what you asked.  It just seems that other events are linked that I am unable to dis-associate from each other and is remembered for me as part of a continuum. 

I was ten, and it was fourth grade. Our teacher was Sister Claudine at Epiphany Grade School in South El Monte, California.  There was an announcement on the P.A. and our principal, Sr. Emerentian gave us the news of the assassination of JFK.  Everyone was stunned.  Total silence, no wailing but definitely tears for some.  I don't remember being sent home and I don't remember anything else about that day. 

We had a B&W TV at the time and we all paid close attention to the news.  Our large family with eight kids was normally a bit unruly but the house was quiet when the news was on in.  I was at home when Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby.  It seemed so odd to me that this scene as mundane as walking the prisoner to court was being shown. Even though the walk was a short one from the car through the underground parking to the court, it was being filmed.  A random person walked in front of the camera, reached across and fired and then the shooter was mobbed.  Oswald was dead in a short time.  

The news kept coming in with details of Jack Ruby's life and Oswald's.  It just seemed impossible that anyone would harbor such hatred for our great leader.  Our country awoke that moment from its naiveté and innocence and entered a period of political sadness.  Nothing would ever be the same.  In fact, just a bit more than four years passed before two more assassinations tore our heart out.  

Eight grade, age 13: on April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King was killed.  

Eight grade, age 14: on June 6, 1968 Presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy was killed just after a speech in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen by Sirhan Sirhan. For some reason I just couldn't sleep that night - there was a stillness I have not since experienced.  I wandered into the living room and that same B&W TV was about to show RFK's last speech.  I watched and thought the crowds were incredible, standing room only.  I don't remember anything Bobby said, just a helter-skelter kind of moment that captured yet another horrible moment that I seemed called to witness.    

There was a great song that summed up the feelings of the American people and was released in late 1968.  It was called Abraham, Martin, and John  and was written by Dick Holler and first recorded by Dion.  

Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
You know, I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked 'round and he's gone.

Didn't you love the things that they stood for?
Didn't they try to find some good for you and me?
And we'll be free
Some day soon, and it's a-gonna be one day ...

Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill,
With Abraham, Martin and John.


We were forever changed by these events and will always harbor great cynicism for politicians and the political process. None can ever be in the same ballpark as JFK.  And as we go forward many books are published that cast JFK in a poor light and still it doesn't change how we feel about the man.  He was one of us.  

Many thanks Belinda, I've never heard this version.


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