THE ASSASINATION OF JFK
Where were you on November 22, 1963? Everyone remembers that day…right? John F. Kennedy was assassinated on that day. I was in school. There was an announcement made, there was shock, girls were crying, time stood still…a nation was paralyzed.
That is what I’m told; in all honesty I don’t remember an announcement, shock, girls crying or time standing still. I guess that is what happened on that day, I just don’t remember. I’m pretty sure we finished classes for the day, and I vaguely remember the announcement that Kennedy had died.
We had football practice that day. I remember two concerns shared by most of the team. First, was this a communist conspiracy and would it be followed by an atomic bomb carrying missile? Second, would we still have our final game the next week on Thanksgiving against our arch rival Plainfield? With no mushroom cloud in sight we figured concern number one was past, but what about the game?
It is amazing that with the tunnel vision of a teenager, the most dramatic history changing event in my lifetime was over-shadowed by a football game.
Friday November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy, the President of the United States of America was assassinated…in my little world we prepared for a football game on that day. That Sunday Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin, was shot by Jack Ruby…I was studying the offence of the Plainfield High football team. Monday, JFK was laid to rest, I don’t remember, but I assume we did not have school; we may not even have had football practice.
It is horrible that my memory of that week is so vague, but I was not the only one who was not consumed by the news. On Wednesday, five days after the President of The United States was murdered, our school held a pep rally for the big football game against the number two ranked team in the State of New Jersey, Plainfield. There was a bon fire and there were speeches. Our team, unranked in the state, was assured that the Plainfield football players put their pants on the same as we did…one leg at a time. There was no mention of the fact that their pants were much bigger than ours.
The next morning, Thanksgiving morning, seven thousand fans packed the stadium stands and surrounded the field on foot. It was standing room only to attend a high school football game. Six days after JFK was murdered the game was played as scheduled.
Many might think, “How disrespectful! How are a people able to put aside the murder of their President, the most powerful leader in the world, and watch football? How is one of the most traumatic events in a lifetime set aside and put out of mind for Turkey, family, celebration and a football game? What kind of society can go on with their life as if nothing happened?”
The answer is the kind of society that is secure in its structure. Secure that we would endure this horrible event, secure that we would survive and secure that in time of despair our leaders would come together and our country would move forward; the kind of society that could mourn but move on with our life and our traditions.
When I think back to that week I remember not so much the horror of the event, but the strength of a country that could suffer a great loss, survive and go on with life hardly missing a beat.
Anyway, we beat Plainfield 14-12.