Friday, November 22, 2013

Remembering the Shock and Anguish Fifty Years Later

The Bitter Taste of Anguish
When Our President Died
November 22, 1963

The life of President John F. Kennedy was first on today’s gratitude list in my journal. The rest of today’s entry follows:

It’s hard to believe I was once the little girl—preteen—sitting in my classroom crying because our president was killed. Yesterday, a friend and I spoke about the “past,” and how we don’t have to relive it. We don’t, but remembering—memory—is important. Memories can shape who we are today if we use them to fuel the positive aspects of life we have gained from our experiences. And what was/is positive about November 22, 1963? We mourned together—as we now also do on September 11. That time—fifty years ago—shaped who we are today.
Did Fears of Nuclear Annihilation
Armor Our Psyches?
I remember being so fearful during the months preceding the assassination. I was afraid of war, of nuclear attack, of bombs dropping from the sky. None of those things happened. However, I now wonder if at some deep level of our collective psyches we weren’t prepared, maybe not prepared, but holding our personal armor in front of us to brace for the disaster we perceived was imminent. However, the disaster through which we lived was light years away from what we feared. Perhaps it was because I was numb after the horror of our president’s murder, but my memories of duck-and-cover drills and practice evacuation walks to the railroad tracks fade after that November day.
What never faded was our collective grief and dismay that the president so loved was cut down in such a cruel manner as he smiled and waved to the people of Dallas on a day that the sky was clear and blue.
A Bitter Taste of Anguish
Those of us who were young enough to not yet be wounded by life and uncertainty and the random chaos that breaks hearts, had our first bitter taste of anguish that day. We were changed and continue to be changed by those dark clouds that crept across the blue and blocked the light of the world.

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