(Another assignment for my writing class students.)
Is that date familiar to you? To anyone living in 1963 it sure is. It was the Friday before Thanksgiving. I was 15 years old and looking forward to turning 16 in just two months and getting my real drivers license.
It was the year of the box pleat skirt and sweater sets. The sweater and the skirt were always the same color but one of them might be a plaid. We always wore leotards that matched the set and if you wore head bands they had to match also.
My sweater set was teal blue and the sweater and skirt were both a solid color. I always wore a white shirt under the sweater with a tiny collar. The head band matched the sweater set. The leotards or tights I had were a teal and black argyle plaid. I was wearing this outfit on November 22, 1963.
But to all of us that were around during that year it is a day that we will never forget. Just like another generation that remembers Pearl Harbor. And today’s generation will always remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the Twin Towers.
We all remember exactly what we were doing at 1:00 p.m. November 22, 1963. It was the worst day for the country in many years and we were caught right in the middle of it. This was the day and time that President Kennedy was assassinated.
I was a sophomore in high school that year. We were just back from lunch and I was in speech class. The class had just started and no one was in front of the class giving a speech yet. It was only a few minutes after 1:00 when the class was interrupted.
The principal’s voice came over the intercom and told us that President Kennedy had been shot about 12:30 in the motorcade in downtown Dallas. He had been taken to the nearest hospital but it did not look good.
We were all in such shock that our teacher talked to us for a little while about what had just happened and class was forgotten for the time being. A few minutes later Mr.Gallion, our principal, came back on the intercom to inform us that President Kennedy had died.
The speech class was held in a little class room tucked back in the corner at the top of the south steps of the school. Next door to this class room was the typing and accounting classroom and we could usually hear the sound of the old manual typewriters; but not this afternoon.
I was sitting in the second row from the door and the third seat from the front in class that day. It was so dead quiet in the school after the announcement that you could have heard a pin drop at the other end of the building.
Then a book slipped off the desk behind me and hit the floor and about scared us all to death. It was so loud in that silence that it sounded like an explosion. I am sure it could be heard all over the school as it echoed in the hall.
I have asked the class ahead of me and my class mates about the exact time we heard about his death and every one of them can remember what class they were in and exactly where they were sitting in the class room. I am sure that most people can remember this very clearly.
I can’t remember much else from that horrible day, the rest of the classes were a blur and I don’t imagine any of the kids in school remember much that went on after the announcement from the principal. The teachers tried their best to console and help us understand the situation but I am sure there was not any teaching for the rest of the afternoon.
I know we spent the weekend glued to our black and white televisions watching the events in Washington when they moved his casket to the capital rotunda where it rested until the funeral the next day and his burial in Arlington National Cemetery.
On Sunday the 24th the flag draped casket of the President was moved from the White House to the Capital Rotunda. It was carried on a caisson drawn by 6 gray horses. It was followed by a lone black rider less horse. The Presidents body would lay in state for 21 hours until the funeral on Monday.
They were moving Lee Harvey Oswald from the police station to the county jail in Dallas at the same time the President was being moved. It was amazing that people were allowed into the police station during the move. It gave Jack Ruby the opportunity to be there with a gun and to get close enough to Lee Harvey Oswald to shoot him. Oswald died a short time later.
Most people were not bothered by the assassination of the man that shot President Kennedy. But there were a lot of questions that could have been answered if he had lived to go to trial. Things that will never be known because he was silenced before the questions were asked.
Was there a conspiracy and by whom? Did Oswald act alone or did he have help from someone on the grassy knoll? We will never know the answers to those questions.
I bet if you were alive and old enough to remember you can answer this question quickly. Where were you when you learned that President Kennedy was assassinated November 22, 1963? To contact sandy: [email protected]