Remembering This Infamous Day When John F. Kennedy Was Murdered

Today is a day that “will live in infamy.” It is the anniversary of the

John F. Kennedy
Cover of John F. Kennedy

day President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed while visiting Dallas, Texas. November 22, 1963.

In my generation, it was one of those moments, which no matter how old and addled our brain becomes; we all seem to remember exactly what we were doing when we heard the terrible news.

Coincidentally for my class at Carnell Elementary School, we were in the auditorium watching a televised science show when the news broke in.

I will never forget my fourth-grade stunned reaction to hearing that the president (who my parents idolized) was shot. The vision is so clear, it could have happened yesterday.

I thought to myself, how could the president be shot – my only frame of reference to guns was in combat or warfare. I silently wondered what the president was doing fighting in a war – I pictured his handsomeness in a business suit and that puzzled me even more. He seemed far too important to be engaging in combat.  I had no idea at the time that regular people carried guns and that they used them for vicious crimes. (What a way to lose my innocence)

As the events unfolded, I learned many lessons on human behavior, the criminal mind, and the term assassination. I watched my parents cry and grieve and grieve. I cried too, especially when I watched little Caroline and John-John at the funeral.

I thought Dallas must be the most uncivilized, horrible place on earth because that is where it happened. As the news continued to play around the clock, another shooting in Dallas occurred – this time Jack Ruby shot the supposed assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, which further convinced me it was the wild west and everyone there had a gun – how frightening for a little girl!

And now ironically, I live in Texas, and my own daughter lives in Dallas and loves the town.

Each year, I silently reflect on these memories on this very day. As many have written, it was the end of Camelot and the passing of a more innocent, hopeful time.

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7 comments

  • Hi Arlene,
    I so enjoy reading your blogs. Your style is so witty and makes me feel like I’m sitting next to you.(wish we were) Keep on writing.I love it.
    Love to your family and hopefully we can see you next time you come up.

  • So this is the third or fourth time describing my whereabouts that fateful day, and it never gets old. i was at Carnell too. In the fifth grade. Arlene at the time the only thing that separated us was a few feet and a couple of steps. I was on the 2nd Floor in Miss Fern’s class (she was a great teacher), and you were on the 1st floor. I think it’s interesting that you mention Dallas because I remember blaming the whole lot of them for it. It took years and years for that city to repair the damage caused on that day.

  • oh, I remember this so clearly. I was in third grade, and Mrs. Schilling explained her bad mood earlier on. She licked her lips and said, our president, of the United States” has been shot.” A boy named Roy Taylor sat in front of me and offered: “I think she means president Kennedy.” Roy had a mother named Elizabeth, who I assumed was THE Elizabeth Taylor. See? Even at age eight, I knew more about pop culture than current events. I wasn’t even positive it was the president named KENNEDY that had been shot until Roy confirmed, but I recognized the name of a movie star.

    And curiously, I remember my maternal grandfather vowing to smoke his last cigaret that day. He said he wasn’t going to give all his money to those tobacco killers who killed the President..whatever the hell THAT meant. And I can still hear the neighbor from across the street, Mindy Z, yelling out: “They just shot Oswald!”

    Hell, with time, I cna probably describe what I wore that day and what I had for dinner!

  • Good to hear from you Saul, thanks for visiting my blog. We were buddies in those days in 4th grade and then you had to go and move away!

  • Wow, Arlene. I remember that assembly so vividly. As I was reading your blog I got chills thinking about exactly where I was sitting (left side about 8 rows back), the confusion of the moment, walking home in stunned silence, and knowing even at that young age that this was a moment I was going to remember the rest of my life.

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