A strange fact crossed my mind a year or two ago. I commented about it to my husband, “Do you realize,” I asked, “The percentage of people who remember the day Kennedy was shot is much less than those who don’t remember?”
This felt like strange territory to me. It was another instance that gave me pause about the fleeting nature of life. How could this be? I was just barely six years old on November 22, 1963. I was a first grader at Mount Pleasant Elementary School in Easton, Maryland. My father was the pastor of the Wesleyan Church, known then as the Pilgrim Holiness Church, at 620 Goldsborough Street. After lunch the principle of the school, Mrs Lyons, slipped into the door of Mrs. Johnson’s first grade room. We were told that President Kennedy had been shot and we all closed our eyes, bowed our head, and prayed for him.
Oh, how times have changed! In the age we are living in now the truth and calling upon God would not be allowed. How many lawsuits, how many newspapers articles and newscasts would happen if as a school and nation we were (with utter sincerity and purpose and not just as a convenient sound bite and spin) called upon to pray for anything? How we have fallen!
When we were dismissed we found out, from the parents who suddenly drove to pick up their children who always walked home, that our president had died.
As young as I was I remember the solemn hush that fell like a dark cloud. I remember watching the funeral, the procession on black and white television. I learned a new word I had never heard before in my young life when the commentators spoke of…”the caisson carrying the president.”
Caisson – A horse-drawn vehicle, usually two-wheeled, used to carry artillery ammunition and coffins at military funerals.
I relate my experience of the Kennedy assassination to recommend the book written by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. The book was very well-written, and I came away from it with a new appreciation for John and Jacqueline Kennedy. The book was not a whitewashed account. Flaws and weaknesses of the president and those around him were honestly revealed, but without being sensationalized. It is regrettable that his assassination eclipsed so much of the good JFK accomplished while he served his term as president. I’m so glad to have read this honest and factual work. It is a terrific book.
Thursday will mark the forty-ninth year that has passed since JFK was assassinated.