This Day in History

Do you know what November 22nd means to some boomers? Those who know might remember details of that day in the past. Some won’t remember or care. Gen X or Gen Y might think it means Thanksgiving is coming.

I remember my parents talking about the day President Franklin Roosevelt died. His death was tragic but not caused by a person. He died from a stroke on April 12, 1945. I don’t know if my parents remembered that date or not.

November 22, 1963 is a day I remember surprisingly well. I didn’t understand what it meant at the time, or why so many adults were crying and nervous. Teachers were having hushed conversations in the hallways at lunch time. An announcement was made that school would be closing early, which seems like happy news because it was Friday and that meant an early start to the weekend. But why were the adults so sad?

At 12:30 p.m. on Friday, November 22, 1963 United States President John Kennedy was shot and killed on the streets of Dallas, Texas. People loved Kennedy, even people who voted against him and didn’t agree with his politics. He represented youth at the time and a departure from politics of the past. I didn’t know any of that at the time, of course, because I was too young. I mostly remember that he and his whole family were on TV a lot, trend-setters emulated their sense of fashion and comedians imitated their Massachusetts accents.

I didn’t really understand what a President was but I knew this guy was important. I did know what ‘thou shalt not kill’ meant so I knew that it was a bad thing because somebody killed him. The unfolding story dominated all the TV channels. The suspected assassin was captured, and awhile later was escorted into jail in front of cameras. My most vivid memory of that time is from Sunday, however, as I watched somebody step out of a crowd on live TV and assassinate the assassin. Talk about reality TV!! I think my parents turned off the TV after that. We had all seen enough that weekend.

So here we are, 48 years later. November 22nd still stands out to my eyes on a calendar, but the day goes by almost unnoticed to most people I know. Media coverage ramps up on zero-year and five-year anniversaries, but the 48th may go mostly unnoticed. Except by curious me. And now you.