November 22, 2010
For the boomer generation, it must have been somewhat like Pearl Harbor Day was to our parents. No matter where you were or what you were doing, you remember the exact moment when you heard President Kennedy had been shot. I missed school that day in 1963 but was feeling well enough to be in the attic of our little house pulling down some Christmas ornaments for my mom when she called urgently to come down stairs, that the president had been shot. I remember sitting transfixed in front of the television for the rest of the day and evening. The world literally seemed to stand still for those first few hours as reports were pieced together on the fly. We trusted the men who gave us the news, and believed they'd rather die than color their objectivity. They struggled to hold themselves together in front of the camera at times. It was one of television's finest hours. A couple of days later, we were shocked again as Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald in front of a live camera while Oswald was being transferred within the jail hallway.
Perhaps Kennedy's and Oswald's killings were the first glaring example of what we didn't have in place in the way of security in those days. Society could not have been any more open and trusting than it was back then. It certainly hasn't ever been that open since then. Kennedy and his group were riding through Dallas in an open convertible that day. Can you imagine that in today's world? No one screened who was in the hallway with Oswald that day, or whether they had a gun. These kinds of things just didn't happen in America.
We lost our innocence as a country on Nov, 22, 1963. Never again would we feel quite so safe or trusting among ourselves. It probably couldn't have lasted anyway, with the world getting more complicated with each passing year. But as a 12-year old who'd grown up in the Mayberry of the 50's, I sensed the times were a'changing, even then. Now, in this time of national red alerts, invasive airport patdowns, and a militarized SWAT team in every city and town, that kind of world seems like a faraway Camelot.