Remembering The Infamous Day When John F. Kennedy Was Murdered

November 22 is a day that “will live in infamy.” It is the anniversary of the day President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed while visiting Dallas, Texas. Dateline: 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 where we were and 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 as guns were not part of my neighborhood and area of town culture. (What a way to lose my innocence about that.)

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.

My young brain thought Dallas must be the most uncivilized, horrible place on earth because that is where it happened – something akin to the Wild West as seen on old movies.  We all then saw the news that it happened during a motorcade as pictured below.

John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, John Connally, Nellie Connally

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 that everyone there had a gun. How frightening for a little girl!

And now ironically, I live in Texas, (Houston) and my own daughter lived for a while in Dallas and loved 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 political time, and one that will never be replaced.  Now what is your memory?

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13 comments

  • I too live in Houston TX, via Edina MN, but originally from Johannesburg, South Africa… Although John Kennedy was not our president, we too grieved his horrible death! Because of the time difference between our countries, and our lack of TV, we heard about this tragedy the next morning. To this day, having lived here under 7 USA presidents, I still consider Kennedy to have been USA’s finest!

  • Remeber it well! He should never had rode in an open top car.
    I was 21 at time. I cried when I heard it on tv. seeing as he was laying
    In state s wrong little John walk around the casket walk around th casket
    Was hartbreaking. The Kennedy family in the followinI
    .y!ears had more tragedy.

  • For some reason my brothers, sister and I were all at home that day. Probably because my Dad was out at sea on a shake diwn cruise for a newly built ship..he worked at the Navy Yard.
    It was a sunny,warm day and I was daydreaming looking out the back door, smelling the breeze when my youngest brother shouted somethingthat my mind did not accept. He said “the President was shot”. I scolded him for saying something so awful. He then told me and the others to come watch the TV. As the four of us sat stunned and knowing that it had to be a flepsh wound, it was announced that he was dead!!!
    The disbelief and grief was overwhelming. He was our hero, he was our President.
    We sat and cried for hours never moving from in front of the TV. Then we got scared. Suppose there was a plot or an invasion like some people were saying and then we thought about our Dad miles out at sea. Our Mom had passed away just a few years before and now here we were two young teens and two little boys so very scared. What if it was attacked? What if something happened to our Dad? All sorts of things went through our heads.
    We stayed up all through the day and night and overnight watching TV and trying to cope with the impossible and pushing back the fear that something happened to our Dad
    But this part of the story has a good ending. Around seven in the morning he walked in the door. He told if the horror and confusion on the ship since rumors were plentiful. However the word was given to get back to shore from many, many miles at sea.
    So do I remember 11/22/63? For so many reasons I’ll never forget it..ever.

  • I remember the day very clearly. We were in Miss Cohn’s class watchinga. science lesson on TV.

  • I was 1 1/2 months old so I certainly don’t remember but my grandma always told the story of watching tv while bathing me in a little tub when the breaking news came through.

  • I too was in school at Carnell, a grade ahead of you. I don’t remember at all what the lesson was, only the teacher turning on the television, and learning of Kennedy’s death. I don’t remember at all what I was thinking, only a stunned, empty feeling. I think we were let out of school early that day. I remember walking home, in shock, through streets full of crying people.

  • 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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