50 years ago on Friday

50 years ago on November 22, 1963, my school was excited to get close circuit tv to watch news. I remember by teacher rolling the huge tv on a stand and other classrooms coming in to sit with our 4th grade class.

I remember being told by our very excited teacher, Mrs Mann that we were going to watch President Kennedy. I remember watching the black and white footage and I remember Mrs Mann and Mrs Camp watching run out of the room in tears after switching off the tv. I remember sitting bewildered with my classmates because we didn’t have a clue what had happened. I remember the Principal coming in and sending us out to recess early with no explanation. I remember when we allowed back in being told to go to the library and find a book to read.

I remember being fearful with the rest of my class because no one was telling us anything but something obviously terrible and big had happened. These were the days of air raid drills in case of atom bombs, These were the days of fearing the USSR. These were the days where the air raid siren went off on the last Friday of the month. These were the days when some of the neighbors had built air raid shelters. These were the days when the polio vaccine was brand new and given at school and we knew kids with polio. These were the days after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Those were days of fear.

I remember not finding out what had happened until I got home that night and my parents telling me that the President had been shot. I remember finally relaxing that nothing had happened to anyone I knew.

I remember watching the little boy at the funeral when the horse drawn carriage went by and learning new words like catafalque, caisson, caparison horse. I remember my dad explaining all the military parts and that for the first time my parents weren’t saying something bad about a President they really didn’t like. I remember the riderless horse.

I remember feeling sad for Caroline and JohnJohn.

I remember all the scary things on tv afterward but not understanding what Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby did. I remember being 9 and wishing I could understand why things happened and why anyone would want to do such horrible things. I still wonder why people do such terrible things.

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