It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years.
Do the math and you’ll realize that I was just 8 years old when the president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was cut down by an assassin’s bullet.
I remember very little of that time. I do remember one of my parents’ friends commenting several years earlier, “If Kennedy is elected, we’ll all have to pray to Mary.” By the way, it didn’t happen. I remember the president being killed, my 3rd grade teacher trying to explain what happened, my parents having JFK’s funeral on the TV, the flag-draped casket making its way through the nation’s capitol, the cute shot of Jonh-John saluting the casket as it went by….
I also remember that they canceled the monthly Cub Scout pack meeting because of the assassination, reinforcing to me the importance of this event I couldn’t quite grasp. Flags were flown at half-staff for 30 days of national mourning. Everyone seemed so much more somber. It was an uncertain time, when your president was killed….his assassin killed several days later on TV….and you were left wondering, “When’s it all going to end?”
In the 1960s, it didn’t. You had the Viet Nam war raging on, people discovering the right to protest, more assassinations–Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. Looking back on that decade, I remember those things happening, but as a kid, the things that stuck with me were more on the pop culture side–the Beatles, the Monkees, the Charles Manson nightmare. A lot of who we become takes shape during those year and I have to say, that decade when I went from 5-15 had a lot going on in it.
So much has been done about JFK, about his short time in office, how tragedy seems to have followed that family. On that day, 50 years ago today, the unthinkable happened. Here’s hoping that we’re done with one of those “learning decades” for a while. At least, in my lifetime.