On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Globe asked readers to provide their memories from Nov. 22, 1963, as they learned of Kennedy’s death.
On November 22, 1963, I was in the seventh grade at the North Junior High School in Randolph, MA. I heard about the President being shot from another student at the end of my gym class, which was the next-to-the-last class on Friday afternoon. At first I didn’t believe him, but he told me he had heard the news from the gym teacher. So I went to the teacher and asked him if it was true that President Kennedy was dead. He said it was. I then went to French class, the last class of the day, and sat through it in a daze. I think on one occasion I failed to answer when the teacher called on me. When school ended, I walked out to the school bus that was waiting to take some of us home. As I walked up the steps of the bus, I saw tears pouring down the bus driver’s cheeks. This is an image I will never forget. Later in life, I saw pictures of the man with the accordion crying after President Roosevelt’s death and thought back to my bus driver on the day of Kennedy’s death.
When I got home, I watched television with my mother, but don’t remember many details. Sometime after 5:00 p.m., my father came home with the black-bordered edition of the Boston Evening Globe, and I read the accounts of what happened in Dallas that had been published in the paper. I was confused and did not know what to think. All I knew is that the beloved President from my home state had been violently killed at the height of his personal and political power. To me, JFK was a martyr like Lincoln. I know I watched television most of the weekend, but again don’t remember many details. I was not watching when Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby. I remember talking with my father about whether the NFL should have played games that Sunday, and we both agreed that football was inappropriate at a time of national mourning.
I do have clearer memories of Kennedy’s funeral on Monday - the beat of the drums as the riderless horse went from the Capitol Building to the church - boom, boom, boom, boom-boom-boom-boom, boom-boom-boom - Cardinal Cushing reciting the Funeral Mass in his raspy voice - General de Gaulle of France, enormously tall, leading the foreign dignitaries in the funeral march - the cars processing over the bridge to Arlington Cemetery as the light faded in the afternoon, and JFK Jr. saluting his father’s casket as he was buried.
-- Eric Davis, Middlebury, Vermont
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