November 22nd 1963 12.30 PM:
It is almost impossible to believe that 51 years have gone by since the world was rocked by the assassination of the 35th President of the United States. J.F.Kennedy was smiling at the people lined up along the road. He was riding in an open car with his beautiful wife Jackie beside him passing through the Dealey Plaza in Dallas and hundreds of onlookers saw him collapse suddenly after a couple of shots were fired. Hundreds of theories and many inquiries into his death were never resolved; the why and by whom. Was it the lone shooter Harvey Lee Oswald who was originally arrested for shooting the officer J.D. Tippit and then was, himself, shot within two days, or was it an international plot, or a group of people? There are no final answers to the question to this very day.
Four other Presidents have been shot before J.F. Kennedy:
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, James Garfield in 1881, William McKinley in 1901 and Warren G. Harding in 1923. Did you know that shooting an American President was not a Federal Offence until 1965?
Do you remember where you were when J.F.K. was shot? Do you remember what and how you felt when you heard the news? I do: I was having breakfast in a small restaurant in Saarbruecken/Germany and the next bite literally got stuck in my throat. I never finished my meal. An unreal silence enveloped everybody with only the news reporter’s announcements on the radio searing through to our brains. We could not understand or accept what was being said. What? Why? For heaven’s sake, why? Many people in the restaurant started crying. It was as if everybody’s best friend had suddenly been killed. Nobody left, everybody was sitting as if nailed to their chairs for hours.
I remember JFK’s famous exclamation during a speech in Berlin: “Ich bin ein Berliner!” It wasn’t just the Berliners who loved him for it, – the Berliners who suffered under tight restrictions living in a divided city, the Berliners who remembered the blockade of their city by the Eastern block and Western planes landing every few minutes at the inner city Airport Tempelhof to bring not only food but fuel and everything else the city needed to function. It was the Americans who kept the western “sectors” of Berlin alive. Otherwise they would have had no choice but to succumb to the Communist pressure and become part of the Eastern Block. After all, Berlin was an “Island” within East Germany. J.F.Kennedy stood for the dream that was ‘America’ – and that word and everything associated with it spelled “Freedom”.
And now this man, the President of America, had been shot. This man was no more. The western world had lost a great man, loved and admired and now mourned by millions…Who would forget the photograph of the small little son who stood at attention and paid his respect to his dad when the coffin was carried by?
Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when it happened? Please add your remarks and/or comments.