Now seems a good time to set down my personal memories from the events of 40 years ago when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas. I was 6 years old and attending first grade at Lindsborg grade school. Two particular memories stick out for me, and to some degree allow me insight into the degree of maturity and awareness my granddaughter possesses at the same age.
The first memory is embarrassingly trivial from an adult point of view; I remember coming home, and hearing something was going on, but not really appreciating what it all meant. What really upset me was the fact that the after-school cartoons weren’t on that day!
My second memory from this time is of an event that hinted at the depth and impact of the tragedy of JFK’s assassination. Early one morning a couple of days after the president was shot, the whole school gathered outside around the flagpole for a small memorial ceremony. What really sticks in my mind was how the grownups were all teary-eyed, sniffling and a bit distant; caught up in their own thoughts to a degree never really seen in a classroom setting. At that point I still didn’t appreciate the enormity of the assassination itself, but its dramatic impact on the teachers served to imprint that something significant had just occurred.
Simplistically, it does occasionally seem that a lot of what’s wrong in the world today can be measured from that day. If nothing else, it does serve as a marker signaling the beginning of worldwide changes in cultures and economies that would have been unthinkable in 1963.