Every couple of weeks, the group will be issued a
"challenge entry". The site will post a excerpt from the challenge entries, as
well as the link to the complete entry found on the journaller's own journal site.
LIVING THROUGH HISTORY
November 22, 2000
I have not addressed the election fiasco here, but I feel I would be remiss if I didnt at least mention that we are living through historical (not to say occasionally hysterical) times. I wonder if kids who are 20 years old now, as I was in 1963, will have the same vivid memories of this period of time as I have of that ominous day 37 years ago.
Thirty-seven years ago today. My God has it been that long? The day is indellibly imprinted in my mind. I was just 20 years old and working as a secretary at the Department of Physics in Berkeley. I was pretty hot stuff. I had my very own office. I was sitting there listening to music on the radio as I worked when someone came running down the hall and yelled at me: Someones shot President Kennedy! I immediately turned on a news station and, with the rest of the country, began listening to the reports from Dallas. The reports got more and more dire. And then came the announcement: President Kennedy was dead. I ran next door to the staff there. Hes dead! I cried. NO HES NOT!!! screamed one of the women, who was listening to a different station. That station had not yet announced the presidents death and she was desperately clinging to that fact. But, of course, the news eventually came to her stations as well.
We all walked around the halls in a daze. There was obviously going to be no more work done that day. I closed my office and left the building. Our office was behind Berkeleys landmark campanile. To get home, I walked past the belltower and down the brick steps to the plaza. The thing that struck me most was the silence. There were clumps of people standing all over the place, and yet there was just. total. silence. It was like walking through a vacuum. Or maybe the silence was a wall Id built around me. I walked the streets from campus to my apartment. Everywhere people were wandering around looking dazed. The president was dead. The man who had, just a few weeks before, appeared on campus, looking so young and so vibrant, was gone. I remember that day.
For some reason I chose not to go to Kennedys speech at the Greek Theatre. I was in the parking lot of the Newman Center when the car bearing the president passed by. For some reason I seem to remember that it was a convertible. Maybe Im remembering it incorrectly. But he waved at me. The president of the United States waved at me. Now he was dead.
In 1963, television wasnt as all-pervasive as it has become in our lives, and so one memorable memory of that long weekend is spending the days glued to the television screen. We were hypnotized by the unfolding drama on our screens. It was the first time wed ever experienced watching history live before our eyes.
On Sunday morning we pulled ourselves away from the television, went to Mass, and then out to breakfast. We couldnt watch TV, but we could listen to the radio and so we had the radio on as we were driving home. We heard Lee Harvey Oswald shot live on our radio. We gasped in shock. Our country was going mad. Murder, live on our radio while we were coming home from the Pancake Queen.
We watched the now-famous scenes unfolding. Mrs. Kennedy kissing her husbands coffin, John-Johns famous salute, the riderless horse with the drum cadence beating relentlessly. We watched the world leaders walk to Arlington Cemetery, watched the eternal flame being lit.
Something died in our country on November 22, 1963. Kennedys reputation has been tarnished in these post-Watergate, post-Lewinsky days when respect for the presidency seems to have gone by the wayside. A year ago, Walt and I and my mother were in Hyannis Port with Jeri, looking at fall color and just doing some touring. In Hyannis Port there is a Kennedy memorial, which we visited. Jeri told me that her generation has a difficult time understanding the reverence for Kennedy, or indeed for any of the presidents before JFK. Her generation looks with suspicion on the countrys leaders, and cant even imagine the kind of respect and awe that we had when I was growing up.
I feel sad that our children have lost something special. Maybe full
disclosure is a good thing, and maybe I prefer to live with my head in the sand, but I
personally would like to return to the simpler days when we innocently believed that our
leaders were something larger than life and above reproach.
|created 11/5/00 by Bev Sykes|