When I heard on the radio this morning that it has been exactly fifty years to the day that president Kennedy was shot and killed, I couldn't believe it.
Although I was only six years old that day, the memory remains quite vivid in my mind. I was in first grade sitting in class at the Redding Elementary School (California) when the intercom was turned on. In those days they had this old-fashioned intercom system, which was mainly used mornings during the pledge of allegiance or very occasionally for other minor announcements. There were two quick taps to the microphone, and then the voice of the principal announced the shocking news.
He said, "I have an important announcement to make... the president... has been shot." His voice trembled slightly and there was a pause (I could visualize him bent over the old-fashioned microphone, wiping his tears aside and trying to subdue his sobbing). He coughed to clear his throat and then continued, "Everyone is excused and can go home now." That was it, and the intercom clicked off air. We all looked at each other and had no idea what that meant and what we were expected to do. The teacher was in shock, and her face went blank, as if she had been an actual witness to the assassination.
What happened after that I no longer remember, it all seemed dark gray and depressing. The whole nation was in shock, everyone really loved this president, he had so much charisma and gave us many new hopes for the future. Not that long previously, he had even made a surprise visit to Shasta Lake, I believe my father had brought me there, but all I remember is the huge and noisy crowds. (Kennedy was also planning to end the Vietnam conflict by pulling out all of the troops)
Fast forward a couple days, and I am sitting in front of our black-and-white television in the sitting room downstairs. The funeral procession is being shown, and the coffin is draped by the American flag, being pulled by an official military wagon with big wooden wheels. Everyone is walking very slowly, and the camera zooms in on his wife Jacqueline with her black veil covering her face and the children holding hands.
In my mind, I was also part of history in the making in my own small way. The memory lives on in my head. Just think how history could have been so different.