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.
Jim, thank you for this reflection, reminiscence and tribute. I think, in part because of the ascent of JFK, everyone Irish, Catholic and Irish American came to look in the mirror and have a greater sense of possibility!
I was a junior at Boston College in the fall of 1963. My classes were over for the week so I was playing in pick-up basketball games at Roberts Center on the BC campus. As I headed to the showers, radios in the offices in the building were relaying the awful news from Dallas. There was even early speculation that Mrs. Kennedy had been shot.
I remember that Friday night very vividly. I never saw so many people walking by themselves, probably trying to do what I was trying to do - sort the madness out. Earlier in 1963, the President had been on campus marking BC's 100th anniversary. In retrospect, the security then was laughable. During Kennedy's talk at Alumni Stadium, a man in the stands behind the President stood up and started screaming something about Cuba and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Though he was quickly whisked away and the President continued his talk, I often thought since about how easy it would have been back then to do the President harm. Sadly, the events of 11/22/63 proved that out.
Early on, there was speculation that the President would be buried with his infant son Patrick, who died in August 1963, at the family plot in a cemetery in Brookline. The next day, Saturday, November 23rd, a friend and I walked to the cemetery, but there was nothing going on. Later that day, we heard Patrick's body would be disinterred and buried with his father at Arlington.
Thank you for sharing this, Jim. Do you have a pic of yourself in those days to share?
It seems a few freckles on you, as well. I always wore mine as a badge of honor, as a sign of having Irish ancestry. Don't know if freckles can fairly be called that, but that was my childhood sense. :-)
Hence the expression, he's/she's got the map of Ireland on his/her face." Only what I've come to think of late of that expression.
Forgot to correct my age. At time of shooting I was 9 going on 10.
In England also, the assassination of President Kennedy sent shock waves. Our Irish neighbour, Mrs Cosgrove, came to the house, dressed in black and tearful, to share the news with us and my folks put the TV on to see the extended news reports.
I was just a kid and didn't understand who Kennedy was nor what the fuss was all about. I was really miffed about it though, because the first episode of 'Dr Who' was in the TV schedules that day and it had received quite a build up as a scary programme for kids, but my folks wouldn't let me watch it. We had to watch the endless re-runs of the footage of the assassination instead. Happily, the BBC decided to repeat 'Dr Who' at the weekend, and sensibly, my Dad sat me down and explained the significance of the death of the US president.
My father too later commented on the fact that there was film footage of the assassination of both Kennedy and Oswald, and he wondered why that should be. He was convinced all was not as it seemed and that both Kennedy brothers were eliminated by political rivals. Only one British Prime Minister, Spencer Percival, was ever assassinated and crimes such as political assassination and kidnapping have always been seen here as rare crimes committed only by foreigners.
Joe, which one are you? And what were you feeling when you heard the news?
James, thanks for sharing this. Are you still in NB?