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It was afternoon and I was on my way to a chemistry class. I had stopped for a drink of water when the news came over the speakers in the classrooms.

For those who weren’t alive at the time: remember what you felt on September 11, 2001 for a taste of November 22, 1963. It was a massive change for the worldview of my generation and it marked the beginning of a period of disruption and decline in the civility of American society. Arthur had died and Camelot fell.

At his inauguration John Kennedy made the point: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

The colors of my world will never be as bright as they were on November 21, 1963.

The last six years have been a nadir in American life. Hopefully we can recapture some of the greatness America once represented.


1 Mustang Bobby { 11.22.06 at 7:21 am }

Grade 6, Toledo, Ohio. We heard it over the radio, then classes were cancelled and we were sent home. It got cold and dark that night, and it hasn’t really been the same ever since.

I have a link to the inaugural address on my site today, and it’s very hard to get through it without thinking about what we lost a thousand days later.

2 Steve Bates { 11.22.06 at 10:56 am }

10th grade, geometry class, leftmost column of seats, second seat. Over the P.A.: “The president… [a pause while the principal regained his composure]… has been shot.” A short time later came the announcement of JFK’s death. Social and political transformation by assassination has seldom been as effective as it was that day. None of us lived… none of us has lived, in all the decades since that day… in the same world, the same America as we did the day before.

I feel a need to listen to “Abraham, Martin and John,” which of course also mentions Bobby. I need to be reminded that America has survived and can survive even the most heinous of acts, and the most parlous of times.

3 Bryan { 11.22.06 at 11:40 am }

It is no doubt the prejudice of personal history and nostalgia, but it seemed like we had a better class of politicians in the ’60s on both sides of the aisle. Maybe it was because they had been tested in World War II, but the McCarthys were overbalanced by real statesmen and public servants. Today there are vastly more McCarthys than McGoverns, political opportunists who want personal power more than a better future.

4 Mustang Bobby { 11.22.06 at 1:14 pm }

I am having a tough time deciding whether or not to see the new film Bobby; I don’t want to relive that, either.

Oh, and FWIW, Bobby Cramer was named for RFK. His mother was crazy about him.

5 Bryan { 11.22.06 at 2:02 pm }

John, Martin, Bobby, Vietnam, riots, Watergate, Apollo – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Charles Dickens knew how to say it for us all.

6 Anya { 11.22.06 at 2:22 pm }

Social Studies in the 7th grade. They didn’t announce it on the PA (I’m not sure we had one), but the teachers were all informed. My class was, strangely, in the middle of doing a “current events” exercise. When our teacher came back into the room after being called away, he just sat down at his desk with a shocked look. When he told us, you could have heard the dust falling.

7 Bryan { 11.22.06 at 3:49 pm }

It wasn’t the accomplishments, they were few, it was the promise of things to come that he embodied that died with him.

8 jamsodonnell { 11.22.06 at 4:24 pm }

I was in my cot (crib) when Kenedy was shot. I would have been almost 8 months old. For me the first defining moment was Apollo XI.

9 Bryan { 11.22.06 at 4:33 pm }

Kennedy’s space program that actually came in on time and on budget. It was a world event, not just a US event.

10 jamsodonnell { 11.23.06 at 4:48 am }

Indeed it was Bryan. It did not matter that it was the US flag being planted on the Sea of Tranquilitiy it was truly a giant leap for mankind. I got to meet Neil Armstrong in 1989 (a work related encounter), I used to encounter various celebrities but Armstrong was the only one I felt in awe of.

11 Bryan { 11.23.06 at 11:10 am }

You’re lucky, Jams. I encountered well-known people when I was in law enforcement, but they were politicians that I had to protect while they were in my jurisdiction.