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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

November 22, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Do you remember the day JFK was assassinated?

Well, yes I do. I was rising out of a chair to leave Mrs. Benson’s freshmen high-school English class, when someone burst in with the news.

I remember being shocked, but really more confused.

President Kennedy and the first lady, Nov. 22, 1963. (OFF/AFP/Getty Images)

President Kennedy and the first lady, Nov. 22, 1963.
(OFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Assassinate the president? Shoot the President of the United States? That does not happen now. That was Abraham Lincoln, and all that Civil War stuff.  Not our young president, with a pretty wife and little kids.

I was in elementary school when John F. Kennedy was elected. The politics were generally lost on me, but he was replacing that old guy, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Sure he was a former general and all that, but World War II ended 15 years before the 1960 election. Ancient history.

Richard Nixon was the candidate in the TV debates with the sweaty upper lip and needed a shave. Hadn’t he given a speech about his dog Checkers, or something weird like that? Nixon and Ike were relics of the boring 1950s. Kennedy was for the Sixties, the future.

Kennedy won office and was the cool president. He gave speeches about space travel, and promoted 50-mile hikes and physical fitness. As a result, in grade-school gym class we were serenaded with choruses of “Go, you chicken fat, go!” Kennedy was the Peace Corps and the Green Berets. The Cuban Missile Crisis was scary, but Kennedy backed down that shoe-pounding commie Khrushchev.

Suddenly the news is of shots fired in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Then the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, and later seeing him gunned down on television as he is escorted by police. And the picture of Vice President Lyndon Johnson being sworn in with JFK’s widow next to him. All to be followed by decades of conspiracy theories.

November 22, 1963. A long time ago. Share your memories.

Eventually the question will be asked: Where were you on Sept. 11, 50 years ago?

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Comments | Topics: Cuban Missile Crisis, Dallas, Kennedy assassination

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