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November 22, 1963

What do you recall about where you were, what you were doing, or what you were feeling, on November 22, 1963?


We lived in Fort Worth, where Kennedy spent the last night of his life. I worked for the government and had gone to work but had to leave early because I wasn't feeling well. On the way home I had the radio on and heard that there had been a shooting at the Kennedy motorcade in Dallas. I stopped at a grocery store and while putting things in my cart, the music on the loudspeaker stopped and it was announced that President Kennedy had died. Some shoppers just abandoned their carts and wandered out of the store.

Our children were five and six at the time and for the next three days we were glued to the TV, scarcely believing what we were seeing, including a live shot of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. Everything that had happened was surreal.

M. R., Texas


I was in my senior year of high school in Baltimore, Maryland, in Spanish class. At that time we had hall monitors who were released about ten minutes early from class. I clearly remember our hall monitor K.H., with whom I had gone through elementary and high school, left class only to come back minutes later, almost in shock, saying "They shot him. They killed the President." I remember going home in tears and watching TV constantly for the next few days, remember crying and telling my parents that I was going to drive to D.C., which they refused to let me do. November 22nd and 9\11 will be forever in my memory.

S. M., Maryland


I ain't no whippersnapper. Hit 93 last Oct. I was driving my car with radio on from Houston to Waco. I was in shock.

E. J., Texas


I was on the floor of the stock exchange where the market dropped a huge 25 points!

B. D., Colorado


I was in the Army Primary Helicopter Pilots school in Mineral Wells, Texas in a navigation class when Kennedy being shot was announced. At first we thought it was a poor joke, then we realized it was real. Class was dismissed and we spent the rest of the day glued to the radio.

B. M., Texas


I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I was a junior in high school then and I was upset that all my favorite TV shows were being preempted by the never-ending news coverage.

W. A., Florida


I was in bed having an appendix attack, but did not realize what was going on. I was in excruciating pain when my son, about 12 then, also was home from school because he had a cold. He came into my bedroom carrying his portable radio, and said "Mom, the president has been shot!" I did not believe him, despite the news being broadcast on the radio. When it finally penetrated through my pain that indeed President Kennedy had been shot, I wept, along with my son. We lived in Van Nuys, California at that time. I will never forget that day.

T. W., Washington (State)


It feels like it was yesterday. The psychic wound is still just as fresh and painful as it was then. Seeing the Zapruder film over and over again brings that painful experience to the surface each time. Memories of funeral cortge, John-John saluting his father, Ruby shooting Oswald and so on are just as vivid in my memory as it was then. I remember leaving class (as a freshman in college) and seeing everyone in tears. The remaining classes were cancelled and I returned home to watch Walter Cronkite. He had already made the announcement of the death of the President. I was 18 and it was the first time I really felt the personal loss of the death of someone I 'knew.'

R. S., Connecticut


I was a young employee of Hertz Rent-A-Car at the Miami International Airport. There were maybe 6 of us (mostly women) in the office. The car wash and gas pumps were just outside the office. I vividly remember one of the blue-collar service guys sticking his head in the office door and saying "Did you hear that Kennedy was shot?" We thought it was just a joke, as there were many jokes made related to Kennedy. Slowly, we realized that it was true. I don't think we even had a radio in the office, so I couldn't get details until I got home and turned on the TV. I remember watching the funeral with the caisson and John-John's salute. Jackie was so emotionless it bothered me a little. It was all very sad and shocking.

B. H., Arizona


I was a stay-at-home Mom with an eighteen-month old baby girl. We were watching (at least I was) an old-time movie on the TV, when the announcer came on to say that the President had been shot in Dallas, Texas. He did not say that President Kennedy was dead. That announcement came later. Shortly after the announcement, my husband, who worked for the IRS, came home as all federal offices were closed. I remember the grief and sadness that the entire nation felt at that time. It will never be forgotten.

T. C., Tennessee


I was 23 years old at the time and recovering from something that landed me in the Army hospital at Ft. Ord. I distinctly remember the shock in the entire ward as we were watching TV, when the reports began. You could have heard a pin drop and people were speechless for several minutes. There was a strong feeling that this had to be a huge mistake and could not possibly be true, but as the day went on, it only became more shocking. That was the beginning of conspiracies running rampant. Kennedy was well liked by most of the country, regardless of which side of the aisle you were on and it was the last time I voted for a Democrat. I have always voted for the man and his perceived character, not the party.

A. S., California


I was 27 years old and sitting at the kitchen bar with my three-year-old son. We were eating leftover fried chicken from the night before and watching a soap opera when we got the news. I ran over to my neighbor's to tell her. She had a beauty shop in her garage and I knew she hadn't heard. Soon school was closed and my other two children came home. It was very hard to explain to them what had happened and even harder to explain why.

It would have been a tragedy no matter where it happened, but I have always been ashamed it happened in my home state. Dallas is one of the nicest cities in Texas and I am sorry they have to live with that legacy.

S. N., Texas


We were living in Pomona, California. Our first child was born about a week before the assassination. I was sitting in my office and someone came in with the news. I thought, What have we done to bring a child into this uncivilized world? What could happen that is worse? What has happened to this country since then is worse.

P. A., Antigua and Barbuda


I was a young lieutenant in the Army, serving in Germany. It was evening in Stuttgart, and my wife and I were at the movies at Patch Barracks, the location of the U.S. Seventh Army's headquarters. Suddenly the film was stopped and the president's death was announced. We all just got up and filed out of the theatre, in shock. My wife and I went home, made ourselves a drink, and just sat and stared out the window. It was so hard to comprehend. We were not placed on increased alert or anything like that. It was already believed to be the act of a single deranged individual.

R. B., Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired


I remember that day very well. I was a senior at the College of the Holy Cross located in Worcester, MA. I was awarded a NROTC scholarship and was enrolled in the Flight Indoctrination Program designed to provide flight training to those destined for the Navy Flight School in Pensacola. That fateful day I was on a solo cross country in a Piper Colt from the Worcester airport to Keene, NH. Upon landing I was notified of JFKs assassination.

As an interesting footnote, JFK was scheduled to give the commencement address at Holy Cross in June 1964 and also commission all the cadets that were in the AFROTC and NROTC program. That honor was performed by by President Johnson.

J. H., Avon, Colorado


On that memorable day in November 1963, I was teaching a high school junior English class in Haltom City, Texas, (a suburb of Ft. Worth). The office public-address system interrupted that early afternoon, made the announcement of the tragedy and we were linked to a radio broadcast. (There was no TV in the school at the time.) The entire class remained silent as they listened to the events unfold. Initially no one wanted to talk but eventually a few began to talk, to question, to wonder how this could happen. I remember one student said he was in downtown Ft. Worth the day before to see the president in the parade from Carswell AFB to Hotel Texas.

B. N., Ft. Worth, Texas


I was home with my one-year-old daughter watching TV when it came on as breaking news.

D. M. J., Stanwood, Washington


I was at work at my desk when I heard the news. Not much work was done the rest of the day because we were listening to radios for the latest news. I asked two of my boys, who were seven and five years old , what memories they had of that day. The oldest remembers being sent home early from school, and coming down the street we lived on seeing all the moms standing on their driveways crying. The five-year-old remembers his mom telling him the news and her being very emotional. We spent the weekend watching the news on our television.

E. C., Elk Grove, Illinois


My mom was working on the City Desk at the Dallas Morning News, so she was actually in Dealey Plaza when it happened. She later said that Jack Ruby used to drop in to the News offices a lot, just to socialize. She didn't actually see the awful moment that day, but she was in the crowd. I was working at my first job in Los Angeles when I heard the news. Couldn't believe it of course. The next day a good (I thought) friend came over to my apartment and said, "Your city killed the president." Tact was not his long suit, but I was mortified.

S. F., Plano, Texas


I was sitting in my office on Wall Street when the news arrived with the appearance of two middle-aged women clerks working in my department. They had somehow escaped the Holocaust by gaining passage on a boat to China. They came into my office and declared, "The President had been assassinated" Then, both dropped to their knees and made the "Sign of the Cross." Two Jewish women crossing a line to show their deep sorrow at what had happened. I lived uptown in New York at the time and I remember the eerily quiet bus ride home. Hardly anyone spoke. Most seemed dazed by the tragedy, something I will never forget.

C. B., New York, NY


I had just introduced to the Rotary Club luncheon in Tyler, Texas, our speaker for the day, Mr. George H. W. Bush, who would become our 41st President of the United States twenty five years later. Mr. Bush was later known to have had connections with the CIA at that time. As he began to speak, I noticed a man at a side door motioning for my attention and I left the table to check it out. It was then that I learned that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. After I returned to the table, Mr Bush asked me if there was anything wrong and I told him the message that I had just received. His immediate response was, "Oh my God, I never thought they would go that far." He immediately told the audience and the meeting was adjourned. I didn't know then and can only guess now what he meant by that statement.

J. B., Mineral Wells, Texas


I was a 27-year-old engineer working in a research laboratory in New Jersey that terrible day when the word spread throughout the entire facility that the President had been shot. Everyone was stunned by the news and we were naturally too upset to continue working. We congregated in the library for a while until our employer announced that we should all go home to be with our families. My wife and I then watched the television coverage to try to learn as much as we could about what had happened and why.

R. K., Phoenix, Arizona


I was teaching first-grade when the classroom door swung open and a very emotional staff member shouted that the President had been shot. The Principal knew that it was impossible for the teachers to continue teaching as normal but there was no way to contact all of the parents back then and there was probably less than an hour left before the end of the school day. The Principal arranged for the fifth and sixth grade students to distract the younger children by escorting them outside to play for the remaining time. Teachers then gathered in the lunch room and attempted to find out how seriously Kennedy was wounded and to console each other. It wasnt until I got home and my husband arrived shortly afterward that we heard Walter Cronkite announce that our President had died. A very deep sadness came over me especially for Jackie Kennedy, widowed at such a young age with two small children to raise. It was as if this tragedy had happened to a member of our own family.

J. K., Phoenix, AZ


As I walked with a friend from an outlying class building at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, another student said, "President Kennedy has been killed," as he passed us. My friend muttered "Yeah, right," and we briefly discussed the improbability of that as we walked on, naively concluding that it was just a sick joke. We were going to the Student Union, at that time of day always noisy with music and the chatter of hundreds of people. Walking though the door was like being hit with a bucket of ice water as his death was so obviously true. The only sounds were a few whispered conversations, the public address system was tuned to a news station, and imprinted on my mind remains the sound of many people crying.

J. B., California


I had just returned from Okinawa and was stationed at Marine Corps Recurit Depot in San Diego. At the the time I heard the news, I was standing in the chow line. Most of us just stood around and didn't what to say. Sad Day.

J.R., California


Working for the state of Washington, I was in another room when a co-worker came bursting in to break the news, "the President's been shot!" We found ourselves looking at each other, then smiling at each other in disbelief as though this could not be true, and must be some sort of sick joke. It took quite awhile for us to recover enough from our shock to join the other workers who were sitting, standing, and walking around stunned, wondering what was next: Was he dead? Was this the beginning of the end of the world?

E.R., Washington (State)


It's funny how clearly that moment comes to mind. Even though I 'm a Republican and didn't vote for President Kennedy, it was as though a member of my own family had been killed and I felt terrible for months afterwards. At the moment the announcement came over the radio, I was working as a dental assistant and returning to a patient with x-rays I had just developed. I remember we were all in shock and disbelief. That was a very sad time for all of America.

H.D., Arizona


It was easy for me to remember 40 years ago when President Kennedy was assassinated. I was working as a railroad station agent and telegraph operator for the Illinois Central Railroad Co. in a small Mississippi town when the telegraph line came alive with the news that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. Radio and TV sets were not allowed in the workplace. It was a day that will stay with me for my lifetime. The telegraph line has long been replaced with the computer as has the small town depot.

J.S., Mississippi


My family and I were in Tachikawa, Japan. Due ot the International date line, it was early morning, November 23rd. My husband, an early riser, woke me up to listen to Armed Forces Radio announce the assassination of the President. As they described the scene, I recognized the location in Dallas and could not believe it. I graduated from high school in Dallas.

A classmate from Dallas, whose husband was in the Air Force, came to our house to listen to the radio with us. We all wondered what lay in store for those of us overseas, because we woke up to silence. Living three blocks from the end of the runway of a very active base made the silence that much more ominous. There was only one puddle jumper left on base.

I remember two other things: I watched the first live Transpacific television broadcast to Japan, which turned out to be the Kennedy funeral. The satellite which carried the funeral went out of range before the funeral was over so we did not see it all. We listened to the Air Force radio simulcast with Japanese TV. The Air Force announcer did an excellent job under very difficult conditions.

During the period of mourning, Japanese friends and strangers gave us (all Americans there) their condolences on Kennedy's death. Many Japanese had tears in their eyes when they extended condolences to us. Japanese friends marveled about the fact that the U.S. had a peaceful transfer of power with no rioting or other disruptions.

E.D., Texas


I was just finishing up my weekly housecleaning and doing the dusting. I was listening to music on our local Phoenix, Arizona radio station when it was interrupted with the breaking news that President Kennedy had been shot. At that time they didn't know how serious it was, but my reaction was the same: First, horror and disbelief; then denial that this could actually be happening. Finally, the tears hit as we soon learned that he had died. I remember thinking, "Poor Jackie and those little children."

I remember hearing that Jackie refused to change her bloody clothes as she bravely stood beside Lyndon Johnson as he took the oath of office right there in Dallas.

She said that she wanted people to see what had been done to the President. How I admired what a great lady she was on that day.

I remember being glued to the TV for the next few days as events unfolded, then finally, the sad, sad funeral procession with the riderless horse and with little John-John saluting. These are things that are indelibly etched into my mind.

J.C., Arizona


I was a sophomore in high school, walking down a flight of stairs after my last class, ready to ;eave school for the day. The hallways were crowded with students, and I recall hearing snippets of conversations, such as the word "shot" and then "Dallas" and "He was shot." My mother picked a friend of mine and myself up from school that day. When we got in the car, she had the radio on -- which was most unusual -- and we sat there for a few minutes in stunned silence listening to the news. We drove home quietly, riveted on the radio. Later, I joined a group of my friends and we drove aimlessly around town, full of anger and expressing youthful, unworldy, thoughts about what should be done to the person who had killed the President.

The following day, I was watching television while having lunch and saw Lee Harvey Oswald murdered on "live" TV.

As an aside, Kennedy campaigned in our small New England town prior to the 1960 election, and I recall his open Lincoln passing not four feet from me. Our eyes connected for a split second, but I was too afraid to run up to the car and shake his hand -- something that I regretted immediately, as soon as the car passed by.

R.S., Connecticut


I was in my car, with my radio on, en route to an appointment with my obstetrician. I quickly stopped off at my grandparents' home long enough to tell them to turn on their radio. Our son was born on December 3rd. He will soon be forty year's old.
T.S., Tennessee


I was only 21 years old when President Kennedy was shot. He was the first President that I voted for. I was expecting my second child, born January 23, 1964. My husband's grandmother walked over to my apartment and knocked on the door and said, "Turn the TV on. The President has just been shot." From that moment on, I was glued to the TV for days, absorbing everything that was going on. Like everyone else, I couldn't watch anything other than the sad news of President Kennedy being shot and the funeral, over and over again.

J.G., New Hampshire


I was in the fifth grade in rural, northern Wisconsin. My elementary school -- or grade school, as it was called back then -- had two grades to a classroom, and my class of twelve baby-boomers was the largest in the school's history.

Although I have no memory of the weather, the time, or any other details of that day, I do recall vividly the moment my teacher, Mrs. Hill, broke the news. She was a stern, grim-faced, blue-haired taskmaster with a heart of stone -- or so I thought, until that day.

I don't remember her being summoned from the room, but I do remember her returning. Her face was ashen, and she was trembling. In a hoarse, choked voice, she said, "President Kennedy has been shot," and she burst into tears. She actually sobbed, right out loud. I felt shocked, and oddly afraid and insecure, at seeing her vulnerability revealed for the first -- and only -- time.

Her next words were more telling than I knew, and I would not understand them until many years later. She said: "I don't like the Negroes, but he was a good man." I had no idea what she meant.

My parents, thank God, had the intelligence and common decency to view all people as human beings, and there was not a trace of prejudice displayed in our home toward anyone, ever. In my sheltered, idyllic little world, I never knew there was a difference.

Not until thirteen years later, when I moved to Boston, the heartland of the Kennedy legacy, would I finally begin to understand: There will always be too many Mrs. Hills in the world, and never another President Kennedy.

LB, Boston


I was a junior at the College of St. Teresa (a women's college) in Winona, Minnesota at the time. I was just leaving the lunch room when a fellow classmate at the top of the stairs hollered down that JFK had been shot. My first reaction was disbelief: Nobody did things like that in America! Then, I experienced a gut-churning anxiety as I headed to my dorm where a TV was quickly set up in the living room (these were the days of one television per dorm, not one in every room) and we all sat in front of it for three days in various states of shock and tears. Classes were suspended. It was a very disheartening time of my life.

M.S., Minnesota


I was working in the transformer test department at Federal Pacific Electric Company in Des Plaines, Illinois. My co-worker and I had just run a series of tests on a dozen or so transformers, and I was sitting at my desk calculating the results with my slide rule (that was before high tech). We had a small radio on the desk that played soft music.

Just as I moved the slide rule for the first calculation, the radio interrupted with the announcement that President Kennedy had been shot. I went into shock. My co-worker had stepped out briefly, and when he came back into the test area, I told him President Kennedy had been shot. He grinned as if to say, "You're kidding." In fact, those were his very words.

Of course, all radio stations had switched to the news and there was no more testing that day. Who could concetrate on a slide rule?

The work area of the shop had also become quiet where normally there was a lot of machine noise. Work had virtually come to a halt and you could see sadness on the workers' faces, and a few tears here and there. That was to be expected: Their president had been shot.

F.H, Michigan


I remember it like it was yesterday. I was living in Chicago at the time. I was in my car at the corner of Devon and Western Avenues, when the announcer broke in to announce that that "The President has been shot." I pulled over to the curb and it wasn't long thereafter that the announcement came that JFK was dead.

Stunned, I parked and called my wife who was unable to talk because of her grief. I went back to my car, listened a little more, and unashamedly started crying, tears and all. The shock was devastating, and will remain with me forever. I was 46 at the time.

H.S., Arizona


On that unforgettable day, a committee of four employees (including me) were at Sunset Hills Country Club for the purpose of making plans for the company's annual Christmas Party. We had completed our party plans and were having a wonderful late lunch when our waiter came to the table and told us of President Kennedy's assassination.

We found the news almost impossible to believe and were in a state of shock to learn of it. Of course, the idea of a Christmas Party faded quickly as we left our lunches and returned to the office.

R.T., Missouri


I was a radio and radar consultant working for Philco under contract to the U.S. Air Force. We had driven to one of our radar sites on Mt. Lemon, just north of Tucson, Arizona, to perform an inspection of the site's capability to carry out air defense -- a very serious matter at the time.

About midday, someone listening to a radio heard that something bad had happened to President Kennedy in Dallas. Everyone on the site immediately clustered around radios and television sets to get the details. As the details came in, we sat in stunned silence. I distinctly remember that that inspection was almost forgotten in the confusion that ensued.

After the initial shock, our military officers became very concerned about who did it, who was behind it, and could it mean other similar incidents would follow -- perhaps even war -- with the USSR. We drove back to Phoenix in utter silence as we listened to developing information.

R.M., Arizona


It was a Friday, and I was in the 3rd grade, and I remember I was wearing my Brownie uniform that day. I even think it was even overcast, or it might have been the mood, just an eerie feeling.

C.P., Georgia



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