Today marks the 50th anniversary of November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas. I don't have any firsthand memories of that day since it happened more than twenty years before I was born, but I grew up hearing my parents' and grandparents' stories about it, so the event looms large in my consciousness.
My mom's family is Catholic, and like many Catholics across America, they felt a special connection with Kennedy, the first (and so far only) Catholic president. On the day of the assassination, mom was in class at a Catholic school in northeastern Wisconsin. When word went through the school that the president had been shot, the nuns brought the children next door to the church to pray for his recovery.
When the news broke that Kennedy had died of his wounds, the nuns sent the schoolchildren home for the rest of the day. Mom will never forget the shock of that day, or the period of national mourning that followed. She turned six years old just two days after JFK's funeral (a birthdate she shares with his daughter Caroline), but with all that had happened, there wasn't much of a celebration.
The assassination of President Kennedy is one of those historical and cultural touchstones where almost everyone old enough to remember it swears they know exactly where they were when they heard the news.
Do you remember the events of November 22, 1963? Share your memories in the comments section.
Photo: John Becker