Friday, November 22, 2013

"I just looked around and he's gone..."

What I remember most about that day is the overwhelming sense of despair, a heaviness that settled over America's shoulders in the hours after the news broke and may never lift entirely.

JFK was my president. I hadn't voted for him -- wouldn't be old enough to vote until four days after his death -- but I'd stood toe-to-toe with my parents and other potential voters more than once before the 1960 election and argued vigorously on his behalf. He was an inspiration to me and to so many others whose hopefulness and innocence would be shattered by the bullets fired on a November day in Dallas, Texas.

I've been to Dallas, toured the museum at the Texas School Book Depository, and paid my respects to President Kennedy there by writing what he meant to me in a book provided for that purpose. I was there with my younger daughter, Kelli, and her daughter, Kalyn. Because Kelli was the baby I'd carried in my belly on the day the president was shot, it was especially meaningful to be with her at that museum, to give her a sense of the historical events that took place shortly before she was born and to affirm for both of us that life goes on beyond our bleakest days.

We stood outside the Texas School Book Depository on a sunny July day and watched the people come and go. It seemed such an ordinary place, a downtown building typical of its era, a structure incongruous with its tragic history.

Texas School Book Depository - Dallas, Texas - July 1996

We walked on the grassy knoll, a patch of green that wouldn't have drawn a second look until the people who stood on it fifty years ago today witnessed the assassination of a United States president.

Grassy Knoll - Dallas, Texas - July 1996

It's been half a century since those fatal bullets flew. The wounds still feel fresh.


The song is "Abraham, Martin & John" by Dion.
Thanks to Somewheremaybe for posting the video and lyrics on YouTube.


  1. Oh Linda! I was only a handful of months old at the time, had no recollection at all, naturally, and the day still gets me. I see it as the end of innocence for this country, as so many do. I've always loved that song by Dion as well. I'm glad you posted it. (I can't log in for some reason... sorry). Alison G.

  2. Thanks for adding your comment, Alison. I think the events of that November day caused a shift in the emotional tectonic plates of the world's people, shaking us soundly and leaving huge cracks in whatever sense of invulnerability we might have had before then.


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