Yesterday marked 50 years since the day John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot and killed. I do not like to use the term 50th Anniversary. In the truest context it is an anniversary but for most of us, anniversary is a day of celebration such as a wedding anniversary or a birthday anniversary. The assignation of John F Kennedy is certainly not something to celebrate but is something that should always be remembered. In my own circles of family, friends and co-workers it occurs to me that many (most) of them were not alive when this horrific event occurred. I pray that they never have to live through an event such as this. I do believe that the tragedy of 911 was just as, if not more horrific an event so I guess all the adults I now have experienced one, of not both tragedies.
Even though it was a half century ago, my memories of that day and the days that followed are still quite vivid. I was seventeen years old at the time, and I had been in the United States Navy for six months. I was attending “A” school in Pensacola Florida. I was in class when a senior Chief Petty Officer came in to the room and made the announcement. I can still see him in my mind today, a rough and tumble military man stood up before us all, tears streaming down his cheeks, and said “some son of a bitch just shot the Commander-in-Chief”. We were then released from class and sent back to the barracks where we gathered in the day room and watch the television for the rest of the week-end. No one was permitted on liberty that weekend as we were in a high state of readiness. I know that day changed me forever.
To this day, of course, none of us know the full truth of the events of that day. I have read a great number of books with a great number of theories. Each theory has been presented in a concise, logical, and very convincing manner. But I still wonder what the truth is. Was there one shooter or two? Was Oswald the shooter or just a scapegoat? Who, if anyone, was on the grassy knoll? I even read one book that laid out the theory that the president was shot by an accidental discharge of a weapon being handled by a Secret Service agent with no intent to assassinate and then all that ensued thereafter was a cover up to protect the reputation of the secret service. There are still many questions left unanswered today. I think that if the government hid the truth they only provided fertile ground for the many theories to grow in. Maybe we will never know and maybe we already know. The truth is elusive. My personal feelings are that we do not know all the facts, and we may never know all the facts.
I do know this. That weekend was one of the most frightening times of my life. Prior to then. Prior to then the only other thing that was as frightening was the blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. There have been many frightening events since then, and probably more to come. But, for the sake of this country, and for the sake of all the people in my circle of family, friends, and co-workers, I pray we never have to experience the horror of a presidential assassination.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
I was only 12 but it is Crystal clear to me also.There was an announcement on the PA system at school.to pray for a special cause but not what. I was on cafeteria duty and just kept on goofing around since in Catholic school in the 50’s you were constantly praying for something . I felt so shocked and guilty when the reason for our prayers was revealed. I remember being afraid that the Russians would take over our country and that the family watched TV obsessively. Mom was very affected I remember. The whole world seemed changed and wrong much like after 9-11. The iconic images like John John saluting when his father’s casket passed are seared in my mind and still make me so sad. What a terrible feeling to experience.