November 22, 1963. Even though today (2018) is Thanksgiving, and America looks at the collective dinner table amid growing division and confusion, fifty-five years ago this day, America was looking with vacant eyes toward an uncertain future, as it listened and watched the news, bringing the message home that the President of The United States, John F. kennedy was in fact dead rom an assassin’s bullet.
It was all anyone could hear that day – and if you were around at the time, you know the feeing inside your stomach as you watched history unfold before your eyes.
Clusters of passersby hovered around cars, listening to radios – classrooms turned on radios and TV’s and students sat in shock before class was called for the day and schools closed out of respect.
Around the world, there were stunned reactions to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
The first hour after the shooting, before JFK’s death was announced, was a time of great confusion. Taking place during the Cold War, it was at first unclear whether the shooting might be part of a larger attack upon the U.S., and whether Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had been riding two cars behind in the motorcade, was safe.
The news shocked the nation. Many people wept openly. Many gathered in public places to watch the television coverage. Traffic in some areas came to a halt as the news spread from car to car, even gathering around cars to listen to radio reports. Schools across the U.S. dismissed their students early. Misplaced anger against Texas and Texans was reported from some individuals. Various Cleveland Browns fans, for example, carried signs at the next Sunday’s home game against the Dallas Cowboys decrying the city of Dallas as having “killed the president.”
However, there were also instances of JFK’s opponents cheering the assassination. A journalist reported rejoicing in the streets of Amarillo, with a woman crying out, “Hey, great, JFK’s croaked!”
The event left a lasting impression on many worldwide. As with the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor before it and the September 11 attacks after it, asking “Where were you when you heard about President Kennedy’s assassination” would become a common topic of discussion.
Here is a half-hour snippet from the complete three day drama, as it unfolded before our ears and eyes on November 22, 1963.