Tennessee School Book Depository

Tennessee School Book Depository

Sixth Floor Museum

On November 22, 1963 I was ten years old and in elementary school in New York City. My memory of that day is still vivid. I had a dentist appointment scheduled after school on that Friday to be measured for braces. My mother was at work so I was going to go alone, not a big deal since the dentist was on the corner of the street where I lived.

As we left school my friends and I noticed several of the teachers crying. An unusual number of parents had come to pick their children up. My mother was a single parent who did not have the luxury of leaving work early.

One of the older boys rushed past us calling over his shoulder, “They shot the president and he’s dead.”

“The president of what?” I shouted after him. I tried to think of other countries that had president’s.

“Kennedy you dummy,” he yelled as he continued on to join his friends on the corner.

In my ten-year old mind that wasn’t possible. This was 1963 and there were people who protected our President. We all rushed home and I immediately turned on the television. I was an only child so I sat alone and stunned at the news coverage.

My mother called from work as she always did to check on me. We agreed I could cancel my dentist appointment for that day.

I spent every waking moment of the next week glued to the television. I watched the plane land with the President’s body and his wife in a suit covered in blood. I watched people lined up in Washington, DC to pay their respects to our fallen leader. I saw Lee Oswald assassinated by Jack Ruby on television. It was not a TV show, it was real life. At ten years old I saw a human being shot on television. In the years that followed there was a lot more killing on television as the Viet Nam war raged on. I have come to view the assassination of President Kennedy as the beginning of a violent period in American history that continues through the present; televised and promoted by the media to raise ratings and make money. I often wonder what would have happened if Oswald lived and if he had been brought to trial. Would we have learned there was a conspiracy?

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