I was 6 years old some 57 years ago in Chicago, Illinois, attending William B. Shoesmith Elementary School on a chilled day. Over the intercom, all the teachers were summoned into the principal’s office immediately that Friday afternoon, Nov. 22, 1963.

When our teacher returned to our unruly class, she was crying, as all the teachers were. School was dismissed with everyone instructed to go home immediately. It seemed a long walk home, as I wondered why the Southside of Chicago sounded so eerily quiet beginning that weekend.

I arrived home and found all my family there, weeping in front of the black-and-white television screen. Mom informed me that the 35th president of the United States of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was assassinated that afternoon.

For the next three days the world stopped and watched in reverent silence as the funeral services were broadcast over the three national networks. Mrs. Kennedy was radiantly stoic, as were her brothers-in-law. Little John John saluted his dead father and the world wept more.

It was inconceivable. It was impossible. Nevertheless, a generation was marred forever. My generation lost its innocence as well, seeing my invincible parents weep for a white man they had never met, but felt touched enough to mourn his death.

America changed forever. We continue to remember where we were when JFK died, and the world wept together.

 

James Weathersby

Augusta

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