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Kennedy Fifty Years On

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Kennedy Fifty Years On

Postby moira finnie » November 21st, 2013, 9:32 am

Since tomorrow marks fifty years since America lost her young president on November 22, 1963, I wondered if others had impressions to share of that event?

The human tragedy for Jacqueline Kennedy and their children seems far more real to me now than it did then, especially since I have recently read Secret Service agent Clint Hill's memoir about that day and the aftermath. The fact that Mrs. Kennedy reached out to Hill and was very concerned that day about the impact of this event on Hill, who was haunted for years by his "failure" to protect the president, says volumes about the streak of nobility the First Lady brought to her public life, despite the depth of her pain. I suspect that Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's arrival in Japan as the U.S. ambassador may have been her way of avoiding the anniversary hullabaloo here in the States, especially since few, if any, reviews of that period can adequately acknowledge that they are talking about a flawed human being who was her father. One of the few programs about JFK that I've been able to watch was The American Experience on PBS, which included numerous on-camera interviews with historians. The program (in two parts), showed how remarkable this person was despite his flaws and frail health and examining his stumbles, skills and growing ability to learn from his experiences. I still think Kennedy had a first class mind, and thank God he was in office during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

For the record, I was in first grade that day in November. Around 2pm, a nun came on the PA system and told us we were to stop everything, say the rosary, and then go home. As we all walked home, and for days afterwards, the streets in our town were strangely hushed, though I realize that my youthful memories may not accurately encompass all that happened. No one seemed to go anywhere or do anything for days until after the funeral. It was also one of the few times that I can recall my father weeping, though he did not know I saw him. It must have been particularly saddening for members of his and my mother's generation. They had been through so much in The Depression and WWII--this must have seemed to be one more blow to their idealistic hopes for their country.

The only comparable event within my memory that had a similar impact publicly occurred on September 11th, 2001.
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Re: Kennedy Fifty Years On

Postby Vecchiolarry » November 21st, 2013, 10:54 am

Hi Moira,

I was on the beach in Malibu suntanning and didn't know anything had happened until I turned on the 6:00 TV news.... I was horrified to think that a President could be shot in broad daylight in the middle of a major city.....

My phone rang and it was my grandmother, who said that she rememebered vividly the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 and how it catapulted into WWI..
She was convinced WWIII was upon us now.

Even though she was a Republican and an intimate friend of the Eisenhowers, she said, "Nobody deserves this brutal end"...

I always remember little John-John's salute at the funeral and followed his life & career until he too died too soon and shocked us all again....

R.I.P. President Kennedy and John, Jr.


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Re: Kennedy Fifty Years On

Postby Lzcutter » November 21st, 2013, 12:44 pm


Our DVR is filled with retrospectives to catch up on. We really enjoyed the *American Experience* two-part bio on JFK last week. Another one that was quite good was on the Smithsonian Channel about that day in Dallas and narrated by Kevin Spacey. It is more than a tad eerie to remember how rancorous the atmosphere was in Dallas and that day and not think about our current political climate. It's hard to believe that 50 years have passed and yet, those of us who were alive remember the shock and horror of that day and the complete sadness of the weekend.

Like you, I was in school that day. It was Quannah S. McCall and I was in the first grade. The only difference was that it was late morning (due to the time difference between CST and PST).

An announcement came over the school PA system and our teacher started to cry.

School let out shortly after that and home we went to sit in front of the television and listen as our parents tried to comprehend it.

My mom worked as a showroom waitress at the Sahara and was due to work that night. She got the call late in the afternoon not to come in, that the showroom would be dark that night.

The lights on the Strip dimmed in honor of President Kennedy and from people I interviewed the hotels were like ghost towns. TV sets were set up around the edges of some of the casinos and more people were huddled around them than gambling. Perhaps the only time in Las Vegas history where that has happened.

The only thing I know for sure is that having lived through that decade of chaos, assassinations and protests, I hope to never lose another president the way we lost JFK.
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Re: Kennedy Fifty Years On

Postby Rita Hayworth » November 21st, 2013, 1:13 pm

I was too young to remember this - I'm a man in my early 50's and my family reaction at the time was STUNNED and SHOCKED of the untimely death of JFK. My three older brothers were in tears when they heard about this and my family had a TV back then and we literally did not watch much television afterwards because it was a pretty much a mini-marathon of the tragedy that took place in Dallas 50 years ago. My Mother tried her best to entertain us while my Father ... read on ...

My Dad was working for BOEING at the time and he was in HOUSTON for his work for Boeing/NASA and he was informed of this development and everyone at NASA stopped work and paid tribute to his vision of Space and Boeing/NASA was deeply shocked and outraged over this senseless death of JFK.

He was at a dinner meeting when this happen and NASA told him about it and immediately went home right after this meeting. At Houston Airport - he was on a plane heading back home to Seattle with very few passengers and the mood of people was quiet and somber. I remember him saying that ... a few years later.

So, he did not work until after the Thanksgiving Holiday is over and we carry out our lives from that point on.

One more thing ... that year 1963 was the only year that my Mom did not cook at all at Thanksgiving - she did not feel like cooking that day and we all went to Denny's on Thanksgiving Day and watched football games - we did had pies at home.

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Re: Kennedy Fifty Years On

Postby Lomm » November 21st, 2013, 1:33 pm

I wasn't born yet. I can imagine the feeling that gripped the nation was very like 9/11; a sort of stunned, silenced nation. The stories above are very interesting, some quite insightful points made as well. My now departed grandfather always said that he felt America lost it's sense of what it was after Kennedy was assassinated. Looking at the way things changed quite drastically in the ensuing half century, a strong case could be made for that.

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Re: Kennedy Fifty Years On

Postby knitwit45 » November 21st, 2013, 6:10 pm

I was a college freshman in the fall of 1963, confident in my life. I would go to school, then marry, have children. I got on a city bus to go to my first job, working at the local Sears store's accounting offices, and all those beliefs were rocked to my core.

Right after I boarded, the bus driver stopped the bus, turned and looked at all of us, and said "do you know what those S.O.B's in Dallas have done? They've shot the president." People on board were quite frightened, but not of the news..we thought the driver was drunk. When I got to the store, it was completely empty. Everyone, customers and sales people, were on the third floor, where the televisions were sold, watching the live coverage. I will NEVER forget Mr. Cronkite fighting back tears, telling us President Kennedy was gone.

All my family were staunch republicans, Southern Baptist churchgoers, and we all grieved like a member of our clan had been taken. Lots of tears, lots of prayers that day and in the days that followed. We all seemed to sense that life would never be the same.
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Re: Kennedy Fifty Years On

Postby mrsl » November 22nd, 2013, 6:49 am

To me personally, the assassination of JFK was more traumatic than 911. I realize 911 was widely publicized but the quiet, hushed silence that prevailed all over the U.S. that day waiting to learn if he lived or died was what still, after all this time sticks in my head, as well as the sight of Jacqueline in her bloody dress standing next to Lyndon Johnson as he was sworn in. My 50 year old son was just 8 weeks old that day as I turned on the T.V. to watch my soap operas, and I remember being angry that another program was being pre-empted because of some dumb news report, until I learned what it was about. Holding him in my arms, even at 17, I knew babies sensed your reactions so I tried to be tough but apparently it didn't work because he started crying, and instead of trying to comfort him, I just broke down myself and cried along with him. Small towns were not the only ones that were affected. Even Chicago was stunned to a halt, and it was days before things came alive again. Then with the funeral and little JFK, Jr.'s salute, the world plummeted again for a day or two.

I'm not lessening the grief and torment over 911, but I'm now so inured to the sight of cities in rubble, due to Central U.S.A.'s tornadoes and thunder storms, that the sight of rubble in any part of New York was just another scene on my T.V., until I realized that people were in those buildings. At first, it was just 9:00 a.m. here in Illinois, so I assumed that the business day had not yet begun, making it 8:00 a.m. there.

Someone mentioned their parents, and it made me realize my parents lived through traveling here from Italy after WWI, the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor and WWII, the death of President Roosevelt, another beloved president, and the monumental technical and industrial changes from the 40's to the 80's.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy still holds a soft spot in my heart, and I admit getting my feathers ruffled when I mention him to a young person who says . . . who? I live in fear that the same might happen with President Obama because so many people still don't realize how fine a president/man he is.

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Re: Kennedy Fifty Years On

Postby moira finnie » November 22nd, 2013, 8:19 am

Beginning today at 1:38 PM ET on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, CBS News online will be streaming moment-by-moment their historic coverage of the assassination in real time as it happened. This will continue for the next four days, mirroring the broadcast that occurred fifty years ago.
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Re: Kennedy Fifty Years On

Postby movieman1957 » November 22nd, 2013, 12:12 pm

I was 7 and I don't remember much about it. The most interesting thing was my mother worked at the FBI at the time as a clerk and all the files on it were in a cabinet pretty close to her desk. She never knew what was inside though.

I remember the funeral more than anything.

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Re: Kennedy Fifty Years On

Postby RedRiver » November 22nd, 2013, 12:54 pm

It's been said that on that day, there were no Republicans and no Democrats. We were united in our grief. I, also, was in grade school. An old country school in the middle of farm country. There was no PA system. A messenger, a "big kid," was sent to inform the teachers of the news. My teacher, Mrs. Phelps, shared it with the class. The president had been shot, and was not expected to live. What a thing to tell a room full of nine year-olds!

I don't think we got out of school early. I might be wrong, but I don't remember that. We took buses to and fro. Perhaps it took some time to get that organized. As children will observe, there was nothing else on TV for days. It was all coverage, all the time. (On all three channels!) Then on Sunday morning, Oswald was murdered on live TV. Live TV! The world was falling apart. I was in church when this happened. Didn't see it in real time. But my mom did. As the rest of us went to worship, she stayed home to watch the news.

What changed that day? That's hard to explain. I think we lost our sense of security. Maybe even hope. The war was over. The war after that was over. Things had been going so well. Now this. Can it be that the culture of random, hateful violence was somehow ignited by this tragedy? Logically, this makes no sense. As a theory, it's not provable. But consider what's happened between then and now. This is an argument that must be made.

My younger sister's concerns were more personal. She thought Oswald was coming for her! If they can get to the president...

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Re: Kennedy Fifty Years On

Postby tinker » November 24th, 2013, 6:54 pm

It was not just America that was affected by Kennedy's death. It was a shock for everyone and it changed many many things for people living as far away as Australia, not the least being that we unquestioningly followed LBJ into the Vietnam war. "All the way with LBJ"

I cannot help thinking when I look at all the films and documents of Kennedy, we lost something that day and we are never going to find it again, not just America but the world. There was a belief, a hope, a feeling people could change the world, and what followed, all the expectations about racial change and telling governments what was expected of them and going into the streets to make sure they understood, we all thought it was Kennedy's legacy, the creation of a brave new world. We did not realise it was the start of secrecy, subversion of the truth and the end of social justice, not the beginning of it.

I can't help feeling resentful when I hear comments about how baby boomers created the problems of today. As someone who though young marched in the streets against the Vietnam War and argued for changes for women and people of other races ( in Australia aboriginal rights and the hideous and horrific white Australia policy) and women's rights, the basic right to chose what you did with your body and be paid fairly for what you did, we fought to change many things, maybe because flawed or not ( and legacy will take longer than fifty years) Kennedy gave us the belief we could do it.

I am not to sure how it all got lost

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