Sunday, November 22, 2015

Long Ago, When the World Went Dark

Arlington, At Dusk
Some of you may be wondering how I, a self-proclaimed historian, had not remarked on what happened on this day, 52 years ago.

Believe me, I know what happened, it is a date that was seared into the soul of a ten year old boy. It's one of those "where were you" dates.

For me, my world went from being a safe place, where all is goodness and light, to a very dark, dark future.

Vietnam followed not long after.

The riots and turbulence of the '60s here in the U.S. were another symptom of those dark, dark times.

But to a young boy, the events were overwhelming. Why would anyone want to kill the President? What dark powers walked the Earth that would make possible such a thing?

I have not forgotten those dark days and I never will.

Rest in peace Mr. President. Some of us remember.

18 comments:

  1. I was a teenager, in school (music period) . . . I still get teary-eyed when I think of it.

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    1. It was a dark day. A dark week as I remember.

      It's terrible wondering why your parents are so sad, and scared!

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  2. Got the word as soon as I walked out of French I. Went straight to the library where the only tv was for latest news. Two the the biggest event in the history of our country have been the deaths of Lincoln and Kennedy. One can only think, What if?

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  3. I was a freshman in college at the time of the first NIXON-KENNEDY debate. I snuck out of a college dance to watch the debate in a bar at the Mark Hopkins in SF. I dropped out of college the following summer and enlisted in the Marines. I was in boot camp when the Berlin Wall went up, on alert for Gitmo during the missile crisis, and standing a pre-deployment IG at Camp Pendleton the morning Kennedy was shot. While they all seem so long ago the memories are as sharp as yesterday.

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    1. Though I was only in grade school, we had very good teachers. We actually talked about Nixon and Kennedy in the debates. Heck, I wasn't even in third grade yet.

      Man, those teachers really taught!

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  4. Was in AIT at Ft Leonard Wood that day. In the days that followed wild rumors floated around. A few had transistor radios and that was our only news source. That day we had freezing sleet. The next few days were below zero with strong winds and blowing snow. As most vets will remember, official orders are read after significant events. On that day we dressed in Class A uniforms, with overcoats, and were marched by companies to a nearby gravel pit, that blocked some of the wind, where the orders were read.

    One memory of the official orders day was seeing a female Major on the arm of a Sgt Maj sliding around in her clearly inadequate shoes. Being a Rocky Mountain lad, I had on long johns. I wondered about that poor woman wearing a skirt with the frigid wind swirling around.

    The mood in my unit was one of resolve; we were ready to go. A feeling somewhat like the start of a football game or wrestling match is as near as I can explain.

    Another strong memory is a few white Southerners who were elated JFK was dead. They kept their feeling muted, but some of us could tell. Me? I had no strong feelings one way or the other not being too politically aware in those days. My burning question was, when do we start shooting?

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    1. Ready to go.

      The best description of American soldiers I can think of.

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  5. I was born in August of 1961. My earliest memory is sitting on the couch with the BadgerMom, watching TV, and something horrible had just happened. I have always figured that was something to do with Kennedy, perhaps the funeral.

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    1. I'm not surprised you would remember something, even though you were so young. No doubt picking up vibes from the BadgerMom.

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  6. I have a memory of that day which I'm quite sure is self manufactured, because despite the vividness of my recollection it takes place in a house we hadn't yet moved into and involves a television which had not yet been purchased.

    I do have a vivid and valid memory of the day Reagan got shot; I was giving pre-deployment shots in the hangar. We were scheduled to get underway in 96 hours and got the word to move it up to nlt midnight, which started everyone wondering if it was part of a soviet plot. The place was a madhouse of activity but the Skipper crushed the hopes of the trypanophobes still waiting in line with the decree that that since he'd already had his, everyone else would get theirs, firetrucking russian attack or not.

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    1. Oddly enough I can't remember where I was or what I was doing. I was stationed in Korea at the time, on the long end of a weak communications line.

      I don't even remember what shift I was working then.

      It was a long time ago and the President survived. So I'm sure that had something to do with the vague memories.

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  7. Gee, I feel (am) old when most here say they were in some sort of schooling adventure. I was in Kyoto at a ryokan on vacation. No english anywhere. The lady who ran the place came in very early as I recall and tried to say "president dead". We couldn't understand what she meant until she turned on the 10" BW TV in the room and we saw what was going on. I think the DEFCON went up a notch, but we couldn't return to Itazuke for a couple of days. We missed most all that went on.

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    1. Dave, you're not old, you're "experienced and wise."

      Sounds like a relaxing vacation, too bad real life intruded.

      I checked and the DEFCON did go up a notch. Want to read all sorts of conspiracy stuff? Do a Google search on "defcon after Kennedy assassination."

      There are a lot of tin foil hat types in the world.

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  8. 11 Years Old, grade school, teacher very serious and sad. She made us get back into our unitized desk/chairs and watch the TV. I remember feeling a loss, but nothing earth changing. As the decades have rolled by I do not see why he is revered so. Not a great President, and he had a significant amount of personal baggage.

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    1. Very few men can withstand the scrutiny of history.

      He's revered because he died in the line of duty, at least that's how I see it.

      Our teachers sent us home. No TVs in our little school. (Maybe in the teachers' lounge but that was, as you might expect, off limits.)

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    2. I clearly remember the day. It was in a conference room at Ballistic Systems Division, Norton AFB with a group of LT's trying to decide how important (or unimportant) they were. A division Lt.Col came in with stunned look on his face and made the announcement. The DEFCOM did go up..

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    3. Ah, LTs debating their relative merit. That could get interesting!

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