Where were you when JFK was shot?

Where were you when JFK was shot.  It’s an expected question on the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. I’m not sure why, but I guess it is really a way for the person asking the question to be able to tell their story, get it off their chest so to speak.  So when I ask the question of you, I’m really preparing to tell you where I was.

I was thirteen years old, an eighth grader.  As a thirteen year old, Kennedy was the first real president I knew.  Oh sure, I grew up under Eisenhower, but he was kind of just there.  It wasn’t until Kennedy was elected that I really understood the presidency.  We were Democrats and had a lot invested in this guy.  He was different…. young, handsome, beautiful wife, funny….pretty  much just the opposite of Ike.  I was too young to understand the politics of it all.  I only knew that I liked him.

I can’t remember how I found out about the shooting.  I’m sure there was either an announcement on the intercom or our teacher told us.  What I do remember is being on the school bus going home.  It was unusually quiet.  Nobody was talking.  Even the bullies and bad asses were quiet.  All I remember was I wanted to get home.  Bus stop after bus stop…nobody saying good by, no shoving or tripping the good kids by the bullies, no girl friends giggling…..just quiet.

When I got to my house, I saw my fathers car in the driveway.  It was parked on an angle.  That’s when I new that Kennedy had died.  You see, my father always parked his car in the same exact spot.  You could draw chalk marks around the tires and they would always line up.  His car was parked on an angle and the president was dead.  When I walked in the house, my father was sitting on the couch watching the breaking news.  I intuitively knew not to say anything to him.  He looked scared and didn’t seem to recognize that I was home.  He was sitting on the couch.  That in itself was very unusual because he always laid on the couch unless he was eating his dinner.  He was sitting in middle sort of staking the couch out and making it awkward for anyone else to  join him  His president had just been assassinated and he was sad and scared and confused and he wanted to be alone.  But I stayed with him because I was also sad and scared and confused, but I didn’t want to be alone.

Over the next four days, he stayed in the room.  I don’t recollect my mother’s presence or my sister’s  either.  All I remember is my father.  I remember him when they reported from Parkland hospital.  I remember him when the police tracked down Lee Harvey Oswald.  I remember him when Ruby shot Oswald.  But I especially remember him during the funeral.  As it began, he stood up.  He didn’t say anything to me, but I knew that I should stand up with him.  The funeral was very long, but we stood the whole time.  It was a sign of respect.  It was the right thing to do.

My father taught me that a great sports announce was one who would not saying anything after a great play.  He said you should be able to feel the moment like the fans do.  My father did not say a single word to me those four days.  He let me feel the moment and I will never forget him for that.


One Comment on “Where were you when JFK was shot?”

  1. Brian says:

    I was in Mr Shriver’s Class and they announced it over the intercom at 2:23 PM. I still remember looking up at the clock like it was yesterday. The other thing I remember was all the girls crying. Hard to believe that it’s been 50 years. Hope you and Mrs Big Guy are doing well.


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