By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Memories of a nation gripped by sadness
Liberty lore
Placeholder Image
While searching through an old scrapbook for a certain picture, I found some faded folded pages of blue stationery that had been tucked away for quite some time. I unfolded the pages and immediately remembered writing on them nearly 46  years ago. This is what I wrote Nov. 25, 1963, when I was 16 years old”
“Today has been one of great mourning for the United States and for our world. A man who was dear in the hearts of many millions of people was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. He was President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, leader of our country, father of Caroline and John Kennedy, husband of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. John was 3 years old today and Caroline will be 6 this week. He was indeed a truly great man.
President Kennedy was assassinated on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, by 24-year-old Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas. Oswald was a U.S. Marine who defected to Russia and recently returned to the United States. The news reported that he wanted to be a citizen of Russia. We do not know this for sure, but President Lyndon B. Johnson is having the Department of Justice and the FBI investigate. Oswald also shot and killed a policeman Friday as the policeman approached him. Texas Gov. Connally was also shot, but did not die.
All of the above took place about 12:15 p.m. on Friday. I am a junior at Ludowici High School and was sitting in my history class, taught by Mr. Tommy Barry, when Mr. J.W. Jackson, principal, came to our class at 2:30 p.m. and told us about it. He did not know he was dead at this time. A few minutes later, he announced over the loud speakers that the president had died about seven minutes after 2. Everyone was in a state of shock.
We have stayed by our television constantly, day and night, watching every detail about this almost unbelievable story.
As I was walking through the living room yesterday, Sunday the 24th, the policemen were escorting Oswald from the basement of the Dallas police headquarters to a county jail. All at once, as I was watching, I saw a man jump in front of them and shoot Oswald! I could not believe my eyes! I was watching a real live cowboy show! ... We did not have any school today, Monday. The president declared it a holiday.
We watched the entire military parade. There was one black horse in it with the saddle on backwards. We saw Jackie, Ted Kennedy, Caroline and John following the coffin as it was pulled by the white horses on the same caisson as President Abraham Lincoln was carried. In Arlington Cemetery, J.F.K. was given a 21-gun salute and 50 planes went over. There was one special one, Air Force One, the one president Kennedy had flown to Texas in and the same one that had brought him back — dead.
The plane dipped its wing in a final salute as it flew over. We watched as Mrs. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy lit the eternal gas flame at the gravesite.
This world is a better place because John Fitzgerald Kennedy has passed our way. What I have seen this weekend will be great history to my children and Caroline and John Jr. The questions that will arise now are: Will the real killer be found? Was it really Oswald? Will Jackie remarry? How will President Johnson manage our nation? Only time can tell.”
Note: In 1965, our graduating class from Ludowici visited Arlington National Cemetery and President Kennedy’s grave. In the three years since his death, more than 16 million people visited it.
On March 14, 1967, in secrecy, JFK’s body was moved to another permanent burial plot and memorial in Arlington Cemetery.
Sign up for our e-newsletters