As a very young boy, JFK and the 1960 Presidential campaign represented my initial awareness of politics – a civics awakening.
Like most others my age, on November 22, 1963, I was in school, (in Mr. Leonetti’s Biology Class), when the P.A. system suddenly and quite unexpectedly blared loud static and then a voice, rudely interrupting our puzzled teacher mid-sentence. Of course, we all laughed.
But there was no school announcement. Just a radio newscast.
We initially thought it was a prank – until we listened to the words. Those horrifying words.
It wasn’t long before the entire school was dismissed and we all started wandering home, with tears flowing and a suddenly unsettling empty place inside each of us which I don’t believe has ever been refilled – even to this day.
How does a young American boy grieve and demonstrate honor and respect for a fallen President?
After the usual ways, I used my meager young lad piggy-bank money, saved from my weekend job, to purchase this bronze memorial medallion and this plate block of memorial US stamps in honor of our President.
They’ve been a personal treasure for over a half century.
I took them out to hold them for a moment today. There was an uneasy familiarity about them. It’s been a long time.
While I can’t say that they bring me any pleasure, I can say that they’re important to me because they represent my tiny bit of personal connectivity to that tragic moment in our history when I believe our nation’s innocence was lost – and those of us who remember it, feel like we were all right there together when it happened.
But I think they’re most important to me for a different reason: They also bring back just a glimmer of a poignant reminder of how truly magical and full of hope and promise the world felt to a young boy — on November Twenty-FIRST, 1963.
What a difference a day made.