As I sit and listen to the fascinating “where were you” stories that have surrounded me about the assassination of John F. Kennedy these past few weeks, I’m often reminded that I am not old enough to share those memories.
Truthfully, I am not.
I’ve heard my parents discuss that day. And close friends that do remember Nov. 22, 1963 have shared their recollections, often with vivid clarity.
It’s one of those “where were you moments” for sure.
I don’t even know that I had the ability to weigh, as a 7-year-old then, how devastating on a personal and national level this event was when there was an attempt on Ronald Reagan’s life on March 30, 1981.
I remember that dramatic day, a Monday, and I was in first grade at Blackburn Elementary School.
Our teachers informed us of what happened, but as it was nearing the end of the school day (and this being 1981) not much information was available.
I remember my dad being appalled at the events of the day. Regardless of political affiliation or loyalties, this attempt on Reagan’s life – just 18 years after JFK – brought back a lot of memories for a lot of people.
And unlike JFK, the attempt on Reagan was on TV almost immediately, in color, for the nation to see.
It was real, even to this 7 year old.
Years later, both JFK and John Hinckley’s insane actions against Reagan, still fascinate me.
I was shocked to look in the Nov. 28, 1963 Lee’s Summit Journal (pre Ferrell Shuck) and find just a few lines on the front page about the flags flying at half-staff in memory of John F. Kennedy, and no other coverage in the local paper to speak of.
News was different then, I suppose. Still, I thought the local paper would reach out to those that perhaps worked on the Kennedy campaign in Missouri or hit the local coffee shop for reaction.
While we don’t have that event cemented in the local press, we do have the stories that still resonate around our community, though.
People can reach back and remember every moment of the afternoon and evening of Nov. 22, 1963.
And for good reason. It was a moment that most certainly changed our country.
John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lees Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.