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The Day JFK Was Shot--The End of Innocence

Updated on August 29, 2015

Kennedy arriving in Dallas


A Fatal Day!

Where were you the day President John F. Kennedy was shot? I've heard that question a lot, and this is about where I was, what I was doing, and some of my feelings on that day.

At that time, I was a Kennedy supporter and a Democrat. I did vote for John Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election of the United States. I guess I was caught up in the glamour of the young charismatic, and well spoken Irishman. However, I did consider his opponent, Richard Nixon, as well. I was a college student at the time and the general opinion I heard from my History and Political Science teachers was the two men were not very different. I still believe that is true in regard to the policies they adhered to. Maybe the country was generally more united then. Both men had served in the United States Navy as Officers. Both believed in a strong defense, and I think they were both patriots.

Kennedy had a claim of being a hero because of rescuing some of his crew members from the PT boat he commanded. Nixon had served as Vice-President in the Eisenhower administration. All in all, I think it boiled down to personalities. It has been said that those who watched the debates on television—the first to be done-tended to like Kennedy, whereas those who heard the radio debates, favored Nixon.

Many Catholics probably voted for Kennedy because he would be the first president who belonged to the Catholic faith. Although I am Catholic, I did not vote for him because of that. It may have been a reason, but not a major one. I probably let the fact that he published a book influence my decision. Sadly, he did not really write the book, so it was a poor reason.

I graduated from college in 1962 and still had hopes of having a writing career. After awhile I was working as a Collections Correspondent for a Minneapolis Corporation. In some ways it was interesting writing but I did not care to be a collector, though someone has to do it.

A Newspaper Job

One day I was glancing through the help wanted ads when one attracted my curiosity. An ad from a rural newspaper seeking an advertising trainee. I mailed a resume to the address in the ad and got back a three page letter from a weekly newspaper publisher, telling of the qualities of his town and the opportunity to learn the news business.. He invited me for an interview. A long, personally written letter. How could I refuse?

I had lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota since I was six years old. I knew very little about small towns or rural life. This town had a population of about 2,000, there were several Lutheran churches, a small Catholic church and a few small protestant churches. There was also a Lutheran College. A new business enterprise was growing there. I found this town was very Protestant and Republican, whereas, I was Catholic and Democrat then.

Although I went there expecting to work on advertising, I covered local sports and wrote the sports page, sold advertising space, covered some news and did whatever else was needed, such as taking pictures. My employer really wanted someone to free up more of his time because he was working on Winnebago’s promotion and advertising. Two small companies were engaged in making campers. One of them would become very successful—but I didn't have a clue about that.

The publisher was investing a lot of his time working on advertising for Winnebago. Several years later, I saw a story in Time Magazine about the town and the company. His efforts paid off for him.

Oswald shot by Ruby


November 22, 1963

On this particular day, I had walked home for lunch and returned to the office afterward. Our the part-time book keeper was there and she said: “The presidents been shot!”

I looked at her and went to my desk. As I sat down I tried to get my head around what she said. “Ït was on the radio,”she said. John Kennedy was shot by a sniper about 20 minutes ago.“

Still stunned I managed to respond to the news and we talked about the details, of what she had heard on the radio. Some others came into the office and discussed the tragedy. Then I felt I had to get away from the office. Since my duties included calling on the local businesses to sell advertising. I left to call on a few of the people in town. Since I was still new my list of advertisers were not the big spenders but the small advertisers, a jewelry store, a tractor mechanic and others who only occasionally bought space.. As it happened, most of these merchants were men in their forties, around the age of our late president. Nobody was in the mood to talk business that day. All they could talk about was the president.

Nobody seemed to care about differences that day. Not in politics. Not in religion. They didn't think of Kennedy as president that day. They thought of Kennedy the man, the Navy Officer they served in the war with For a day, at least, he was a young man in the prime of life who they trusted to lead the country despite differences in party and religion.

Back at the office someone mentioned that the Catholic minister was picked by the minister's association of the town to give a eulogy speech, This town, by the way, was the only place I ever heard a priest referred to as the Catholic minister.

“Well, he was the their president,” someone said.

“He was everyone's president,”another person retorted.

And of course, the president should always be the president of all the people of the United States.

The Following Days

The news coverage was non-stop. I missed a lot of it because I had an old TV set that got poor reception. I do remember the capture of Harvey Oswald, the accused shooter, and later his being killed while in police custody right in front of the TV camera,. I was ready to believe any conspiracy theories that came along.

Father Boyd did give the eulogy sermon for the town. He talked about the two Johns, President John Kennedy and Pope John Need I say that there was a sense of innocence back then. No one anticipated the coming tragedies of another Kennedy being shot a few years later, nor Rev. Martin Luther King.

Later I read some of the books about the assassination of JFK and some were very convincing. For a long time, I was doubtful of the Warren Report, which was the official investigation into the shooting of the president and I am still trying to keep an open mind about it. However, It seems that the investigators and commentators that I most trust still think Harvey Oswald was the shooter. I tend to accept that. Although many of the theories are interesting, none of them really convince me.

© 2015 Don A. Hoglund


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    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      ps, Pope Francis bring JFK to mind in his visit. Kenneddy always semed to worry his secret service bodyguards because he wanted to get among the people. He said if someone was going to kill him, they would do it despite the guards. The Pope has been doing much the same thing in mingling with the people and making his guardians a bit worried. I do wish him the best and hope nothing happens to him. Hopefully, the angels are looking out for him.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      3 years ago from sunny Florida

      Like you my memory of that day is so very vivid. I remember exactly what I was doing, what the lighting in the room was like, how we all felt when the announcement came over the loudspeaker. Our whole county was enveloped in the loss...there was no Catholic church in our county but there was an Episcopal church where a service was held and those who came to mourn flowed well out into the parking area.

      It was indeed a loss of innocence time...I was a young teen who had never ever had a thought that such a thing could ever happen.

      Well done...Sending you Angels this evening as well as to the leaders of our nation and nations around the world. ps

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      HI Peggy. I think it took me awhile to realize what happened that day.I sort of shuffled through the motions o my job. I did get the feeling that those I talked to were doing much the same thins. Thanks for commenting.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I was a sophomore in high school and my dear grandmother had died that same year just a few months apart. It shook me badly and you are correct in that we rarely thought of things happening like that in this country. Innocence was definitely shattered that day and in the years to come as you referenced.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Jodah, an attack on the president is an attack on the country as he, or she is the leader of the country. Aware or not the people feel that the country itself has been violated.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      moonlake. Thanks for commenting on the hub. Now that you mention the missile crisis it brings to mind that I was in the Naval Reserves at that time. I did get a notice that I might have to report for active duty but I did not actually get the call. They werre times of deep tension despite the mmemories of it being so peaceful in that day. Thanks for commenting.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      drjb, Thank you for your comments. I agree that we may never learn the whole truth about JFK death or of things that happened after. I was unable to follow much of what happened at the time as I was living in a rented room in a small town away from communications such as radio and TV. However, memories remain of how the ordinary people --store owners, mechanics, clergy in a mid-wwst town reacted like they had lost a brother and did not care about what party or religion this leader belonged to.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      I remember that day too well, Don - the details of all that followed are still etched in my memory. We lost a good man way too soon. And I'm not convinced that we, the public, ever learned or will learn the entire truth.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Lions. Thank you for commenting. There is a lot of interest in our reactions to this event.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Ms Dora.

      It does not surprise me that JFK's death touched those in place like the Caribbean. His appeal was well beyond just the United States. Thanks for reading and commenting on the hub.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      I remember that day, Don, and I will never forget it. Our country lost a young president who was beloved and admired. In his too short presidency, he displayed determination and leadership. Thanks for sharing your well-written memories.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Don, I enjoyed this hub. JFK's shooting is one of those events that stick in people's minds and let's them remember what they were doing at the time they heard the news. I was only six years old but can remember hearing the news and seeing it on TV which my parents had only bought a few weeks before. Good work.

    • moonlake profile image


      3 years ago from America

      My sister-in-law called and told me to turn on the tv the president had been shot. We were all shocked, sad and scared.

      I remember president Kennedy most because of the Cuban Missiles Crisis. My husband and my Dad were both in the military at the time. We never moved away from the tv, the men had been told to return to base on high alert. Believe me we didn't think we were getting out of this one. Khrushchev and Castro were crazy leaders. Kennedy stood up for our country. I know he made some mistakes, but I believe he was one of our greatest Presidents.

      Enjoyed reading your hub.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      WillStar. It was a day and an event which in a odd sort of way brought us all closer together as a people. Thanks for commenting.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      billybuc, thank you for commenting. With Robert Kennedy's murder I had better exposure to TV and the reporting but less to people to exchange feelings with. It got worse when Martin Luther King was killed. Now, I look back and those times seem to be the days of innocence, or maybe we are just getting older.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for commenting, Ruby. I believe that the people, including myself, were in a bit of shock state that day.I was most impresed, however, with how differences were set aside at the time, even if just for a little while.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      I was a high-schooler in the Caribbean. May be difficult to believe, but we were as hard hit as if he were our president. As for the theories, I'd keep reading if there more; they're all interesting.

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 

      3 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Great work. It's always interesting to hear someone's reflections of that day. Shared!

    • WillStarr profile image


      3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I was working on exotic new electronic equipment for space exploration when an engineer rushed in and turned on the radio. It was November 22, 1963, and the frantic announcer kept repeating that shots had been fired and it was feared that the President may have been wounded. About half an hour later, we learned that Kennedy had been shot, and that he was in serious condition. Not long after came the announcement that he was dead. It was a Friday.

      Well done, Don!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I was fifteen at the time. A bit too young to be shaken by it but still it was a shock. The one that hit me harder was the RFK assassination when I was in college. About that time I decided there was no salvation for the country in politics. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I remember the day well. I voted for President Kennedy. ( My first time to vote for a president. ) I am not catholic and I remember people saying that it would not be good to vote for him because of his religion. I believe we've come a long way since those fearful day's of judging a person on his religion. I enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing ..


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