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Friday, November 22, 2013



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.     


  1. I was eleven that day and I'll never forget it.

  2. I remember hearing the announcement over the intercom at school and the shock I felt. It was a sad time but like you, I was too much of a self-centered teenager to spend much time reflecting on the situation.

  3. I remember they piped the live radio feed over the school PA system so we could "witness history". 'Course, I also remember Pam M. looked especialy hot that day, too.


  4. Scott -Everyone seems to remember in a "politically correct" kind of way. Like the whole nation went onto morning for a month including even the "Little Children" Few people seem to remember "Pam M. looking hot!" Thank you for validating my point...I knew I could count on you.

    And yes it was a terrible tragedy and we lost a great man and probably a great President if given a complete chance before he was taken in the prime of his life.

    That goes without saying, and yet you have to say it, so maybe it doesn't go without saying.

  5. I was 8 and never heard about it until after school when I saw how distressed my mother was. It's interesting how of 5 stunning historical events which I recall from childhood, only one (which was a series of events) was not American.

    John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, the moon landing and the FLQ crisis in my native Montreal.

  6. What an interesting perspective, and if the truth be told, your recollection is probably very similar to what other people our age experienced. I was a weird duck. I was already a news junkie, and unabashedly fascinated by all things Kennedy, because JFK inspired me. So I was one of the girls who was crying when she heard the news over the PA... and who jumped at the opportunity to go to D.C for the funeral procession.

  7. i was only 4 mos. old, but i appreciate your honesty in carrying on.

    i sometimes feel that way when folks suffer great tragedy or mother nature takes out whole towns, etc. the rest of us carry on with our daily lives and our little worries. it is an odd feeling that we don't take notice and share in the trauma more...

  8. I was 20 and in college, and it was a coming-of-age event for me (I've just posted about it). Had I been younger, probably not.

  9. I had 3 young children who couldn't really understand why their mommy was crying all day!!

  10. I, too, remember where I was. But probably most people remember the same for the explosion of the shuttle, the assassinations of RFK and MLK. The important thing, as you said, is demonstrating our same lives carry on.
    When the Virginia sniper was operating in the D.C. area many artists cancelled a show I had at the D.C. Expo. I went. It was my duty.
    I still remember that every single one of us showed up to do a show in Saratoga the weekend after 9/11. All I heard was display poles clanking; no one said a word. But, we needed to show the world we were America.

  11. Our school got the news at lunch time. As tragic as it was we still crowded into lunch line for trays of mystery meat and canned string beans. I remember being a bit ticked off that the Beatles concert was delayed but I can't hear more than one or two seconds of that funeral drumbeat that I'm back in front of that blurry black and white t.v. watching the riderless horse and feeling deeply, deeply sad.

  12. After the first couple of days of shock and paralysis, life has to go on (for those not immediately affected I mean). There is no other way.
    I remember as a 7 year old the day Elvis Presley died and my teacher was a bit sad, but I didn't know who he was and the fascination for me then was in seeing the impact on the adults around me. I also remember when John Lennon was shot and my mother cried.

  13. I was barely out of toddlerhood, but I remember the funeral procession on the black-and-white TV.