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A 10 Year Old's Memory of the Assassination of President Kennedy

Updated on November 22, 2016

What's Wrong Mom?

President Kennedy was murdered while riding in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza in Dallas at 12:30 PM CST on Friday, November 22, 1963. On that unforgettable day, President Kennedy’s motorcade entered Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Shots were fired and ended up striking both President Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally, who was in the same limousine. JFK was rushed to Parkland Hospital, where he was soon pronounced dead.

This tragic event took place over 51 years ago. I was ten years old and can stilll remember that day vividly. I had come home from school for lunch. I was in the fifth grade at Fullerton Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio. Back then, you had to go home for lunch. There were no buses and sure as heck, no car rides from your parents! I remember walking home without a care in the world.

I remember my Mom was in the kitchen getting my lunch ready, but crying. I asked her what was wrong. I remember her saying that the President had been assassinated. I had to ask her what assassinated meant. I was ten years old and did not know what the word meant. When she told me that it meant that he was shot and had died, I then asked why she was crying. At ten years old, I didn’t understand.

I remember feeling guilty afterwards because I was happy when they announced that the schools would be closed. Ten-year-old boys are a selfish lot. I remember thinking it odd that the NFL was still going to play their games on Sunday, 11-24-1963. After all, the President had been ,what was that word again?...oh yeah…assassinated.

The First Bullet

It Did Seem Serious.

I do remember how his violent death affected our country. No one talked about anything else. All the news stories were about the death of the President. There wasn't any cable television then. No twitter or Facebook or Skype. There were only three main TV channels and all they showed were scenes of the motorcade and the events of his funeral. For four days straight, all we saw on television were things about the President. Life in America during those four days came to a virtual halt as a nation sat, immobilized, glued to the TV.

I remember seeing news reports of commotion outside of Parkland Hospital in Dallas. None of the television stations broadcast the assassination live because the area of town through which the motorcade was traveling was not considered an important enough part of the motorcade route for a live broadcast. The now infamous film footage of the assassination and the limo speeding away was taken by amateur camera operator Abraham Zapruder, in what became known as the Zapruder film.

I remember watching the funeral procession on TV. They said it was estimated one million people lined the streets to view the formal funeral procession on November 25, 1963 for President John F. Kennedy. On the Sunday after the assassination, his coffin was carried on a horse-drawn caisson to the U.S.Capitol to lie in state. Throughout the day and night, hundreds of thousands lined up to view the heavily guarded casket.

Those haunting sounds of the horse's hooves on the concrete.

Etched in Memory

I grew up some that Weekend.

I remember the muffled cadence of the drums and the sounds of the horse’s hooves on the streets during the procession. There was something very eerie about those sounds, especially to a ten-year-old boy. I remember John-John saluting his father’s casket as it rolled by on the caisson and my Mom crying some more while the black and white television zoomed in on him.

I remember the feisty riderless horse that had boots in the saddle and that they were facing backwards. My Dad said it was an Army tradition that honored the President and other high-ranking Army officers who were killed.

I remember that nothing seemed the same after that. Even as a ten-year-old boy who at first was happy about a couple of extra days off from school, I knew that somehow, life was about to change. Something very serious and solemn had set the tone.

To quote John F. Kennedy himself : “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”


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    • TINA V profile image

      TINA V 8 years ago

      I don't have a vivid memory about it. I wasn't born yet during those times. We studied the life of JFK in our class. But it's different to read an article about your real life experience. Thank you for sharing it.