Remembering JFK

A time of sadness and shock

Yes, I certainly do remember the day that Kennedy was shot.

I was a 6th grader in Natick, Mass., and our principal announced that the president had been shot and had died. I remember being in the girls' room with my friends crying and crying. I had a strong sense of sadness and grief.

Later on we had a whole school assembly. It was very quiet, somber and sad. I believe that the principal led us in prayer for JFK’s family and for our nation.

I think that because he was so young and although I had little political knowledge I remember being fascinated with his children. Caroline and her pony Macaroni on the White House lawn and little John-John in pictures playing under the desk in the Oval Office — both he and his dad laughing.

My parents were 2nd generation Irish Catholic, and I was born and spent my early years in Boston. They were very happy that the first Catholic president had been elected, as that was a significant event that would not have happened when they were younger.

We did not have school for at least a day and sat around the TV watching the funeral and graveyard ceremonies. I especially remember the sadness of John-John’s salute and the riderless horse with the boots turned backwards in the stirrups. We were tearful and in a state of shock at the same time, seeing it yet not quite able to process it (not unlike 9/11).

Years later when I was in my late 30s, a friend in her early 30s was getting married and announced the date as Nov. 22. Although she would have been about 2 at the time of Kennedy’s death, I remember thinking, “Oh no, you can’t get married on the day that Kennedy was shot.”

Christine Gutkowski lives in Antrim.

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