From members of the Gustavus community, 2003


If you would like to add your own recollections to this collection, send an e-mail to Chris Gilbert ( or via campus mail to Box B-33.  This page will be updated for as long as new recollections are received.


Last updated November 21, 2003.


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I was at Oberlin College in a basement classroom in Peters Hall (not unlike Old Main) taking a Philosophy 101 class.  Memory is a tricky thing.  But I think I remember looking up and out the ground level window and seeing some people gathering.  Did I hear something? Did someone have a radio on? Leaving class I met a small group and someone was saying that Kennedy had been shot.  My first reaction was one of disbelief--it seemed impossible that a president could be shot--especially Kennedy. Later I  remember being with my girl friend when we learned that he had actually died.  She was
distraught and we spent a lot of time outside walking around, then just sitting and trying to absorb it outside Hall Auditorium--all white, green shrubbery. Classes were cancelled.

Rob Gardner

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    Milt and I were on leave from Gustavus and living in Lawrence, Kansas, where Milt was studying in the mathematics and computer science departments.  Our children were Jim and Jenny, 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 years old.  We had enough resources so that I was able to be at home with the children. 
    Jenny had gone in for her nap and I was getting Jim ready for his nap while watching "As the World Turns."  The news came on television and I remember standing in front of the TV, holding Jim, watching the news in disbelief.
    Jim remembered the time for weeks after that as an amazing moment, "the time Mama cried."
Elaine M. Brostrom

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Before the Zapruder film was stolen and shown illegally on TV all over the country (1975) thus making it legal forever, there was a deliberately blurry version Jim Garrison was grudgingly given by the government on subpoena during the Clay Shaw trial, which he hijacked and distributed.

In 1969, I saw the blurry version illegally in the basement of a parking lot at Vermont and Sunset in LA in the middle of the night. There were about eight of us. The guy who was showing it to us was Mike Farrell, who was making refrigerator commercials at the time and later starred on MASH. In addition, there were three or four guys in suits with lapel pins impossible to decipher--while we watched the screen, these guys stood at the door and watched us watching the screen. It was weird.

What was even weirder is that the movie stopped and froze on a frame and began to burn and melt. You could see the picture melting on the screen and smell the smoke coming from the projector. It was the only time I've ever seen that...

In 1975 I met a four star general named Penn Jones. We drank beer together in his room. He told me he knew who had committed the murder and that half of Congress did too.

In 1963 I was sitting in Drivers' Ed, when the rent-a-cop came in with a transistor radio saying President Kennedy had been shot. The girl in front of me was quite upset, but I told her don't worry, Kennedy would be okay. Previously I had given her my drivo-trainer. I still know her today. She's nice, but Kennedy is still dead.

I always believed the Oswald story until 1967, when members of the Warren Commission said they had seen a picture of the Book Depository at the moment of the assassination and that Oswald was clearly seen shooting from the window--but that they were not releasing the picture because it was classified.

I have never lost interest in the case.

Rich Hilbert


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I was a student at Caltech when I heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot.  I have memories of the shock I felt when I heard the news, and the daze I was in in the aftermath.

I don't think my experience at the time was unusual.  But around the time of the anniversary of that dark day in 1985, I learned something that did strike me as unusual.  I was Gustavus's exchange professor at Kansai Gaidai that year, and in late November I was talking with the wife of the man I played Go with.  We conversed with some difficulty, because my Japanese was not good, and she was not proficient in English.  She told me that she remembered the shock she felt on November 23, when Kennedy was shot.  I objected that I was sure that it was November 22.  But she remembered it clearly, because it was just at that time that Japan started receiving live television signals from the United States via satellite.  And, of course, Japan is across the international date line from the U.S.  What a shock it must have been to the Japanese to have this window to the West opened up just as the tragic events in Dallas were unfolding!

John Holte

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I was in 8th-grade biology class, dissecting a frog. Our group had been blessed with a much larger frog than the other groups, so the organs were much easier to identify. A girl in the next group was crying, but refused to say why. She was not the sort of person given to crying, so I was curious. She was apparently not allowed by the school administration to speak freely until an official announcement had been made.

Next hour, in my English class, the teacher made the announcement. I remember thinking that America was in a horrible mess, and that a significant hope for the future had been lost.

Karen Larson

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I was in third grade at St. Patrick's Parochial School in Clinton Iowa on November 22, 1963.  I had finished lunch when some students who had gone home for lunch returned to tell us that Kennedy had been shot.  I found it hard to believe but our teacher looked very serious so I figured they weren't teasing.  This was profound for our community because Kennedy was our Catholic president.

Shortly after finding out about the tragedy, everyone in the school processed the 1/2 block to the church and the principal began leading us in reciting the rosary.  We were about half way through when the church bell began tolling.  I remember not knowing what that meant, but as it continued the principle stopped leading in the rosary, stood up, and walked silently out of the church, silently followed by the rest of us.  By the time I had gotten outside I realized that John F. Kennedy was dead.

Michael Jorgensen


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That afternoon, I was driving from Cleveland, OH, to Erie, PA, in an old beater that had no working radio. I noticed that the volume of traffic was lighter than normal, and that most cars were going slower than the speed limit. When I got to Erie, I stopped at Gannon College to look up some old friends, but the campus seemed nearly deserted. As I  walked from the parking lot to one of the dormitories, a former roommate hailed me. After the usual exchange of pleasantries, he said, "Well, I guess they really nailed Kennedy." I hadn't a clue what he was talking about, and he gave me as much of the news as he had heard. I was stunned. I went immediately to my girlfriend's house, two hours before I had arranged to pick her up for dinner and a movie, and we spent the rest of the day glued to the TV. For the next two days, we drove from one friend's house to another, to another--there were groups of friends drifting in and out of living rooms all over the city, migrating from TV set to TV set, as though somewhere there might be a message that it had all been just imaginary, that the president could be shot by a sniper who could be caught so quickly at a movie theater where he had shot a policeman, and that he in turn would be shot before our eyes as we watched through that gray television window (most people didn't have color TV at that point). And the discussions: every theory, every speculation, every explanation anyone could imagine. We were all obsessed with trying to understand how and why. We took refuge in intellectual exercises based on too little information, we were so emotionally numbed. I don't remember anyone crying until the funeral, where we all did, even those of us who were conservative Republicans. Whatever we thought of his politics, we had all been affected by the Kennedy magic, and suddenly the magic had evaporated, and we were ashamed at having laughed at all the previous years' jokes about Camelot and PT 109.

John Rezmerski


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In 1963 I was a student at the gymnasium in Karlshamn in southern Sweden.  I rented a room from an elderly widow, Mrs. Ohlsson.  My favorite subject was history, particularly American history. I don't know if I had already begun planning to study in the US after graduating, but AMERIKA was often on my mind.  My Chicago relatives had visited the parental farm in the summer of 1962. I remember hearing from them - they were staunch Republicans - that Kennedy was not to be trusted.  But they knew my interest in history and the US so they kept me supplied with books and clippings from newspapers. In 1964, for instance, I received None Dare Call It Treason, probably intended to cure me of my youthful aberrations.  But that's a different story.

Kennedy was well liked in Sweden.  Many had followed the presidential campaign, worried with him and the world during the Cuba missile crisis, and talked and talked about his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. And pictures of the Kennedy family were more common in the Swedish press than those of our king and queen and Tage Erlander, our prime minister.

Friday, November 22, 1963, was a test day at school. It was "composition day."  The students were given ten-fifteen topics from which they had to choose one and then write for four-five hours, first a rough draft in pencil and then a final draft in ink.  I probably selected a topic supplied by my history teacher.  I almost always did.  Perhaps I even wrote about American history. When I came home to my room I turned on my transistor radio. Curiously there was no talking, only classical funereal music.  I knew what that meant.  Something serious had happened, someone important had died.  That was when Swedish radio suspended regular programming and played classical music, music of mourning.   I don't remember how long I had to wait to find out what had actually happened, but when it came it came in the form of a brief bulletin.  No outpouring of emotions, no lengthy speculations, just a bulletin and more serious music.

Swedish schools had Saturday morning classes until the mid 1960s.  I must have gone to my classes, but I can't remember a thing about talking with teachers or other students.  But I do remember standing on the platform at the Karlshamn train station in the mid-afternoon, waiting for the train to take me back to my home in the woods for a Sunday visit. News bills with ugly black letters - JOHN F KENNEDY DD - hung on pillars.  Everyone on the platform and in the train was quiet, everyone was reading newspapers. Pictures of John F. Kennedy and the motorcade in Dallas were on the front page of every paper. Soon speculations began.

Roland Thorstensson


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I was teaching at the University of Nigeria as a member of the Peace Corps.   President Kennedy's assassination took place during the noon hour in Dallas, which was early evening in Nigeria.  We did not have telephones, so I got the news from a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer, who ran down to my house after he heard about it from the Voice of America on short-wave radio.

Kennedy was extremely popular in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa.  The univeristy students were upset, believing it was a political killing—the assassination took place in Vice-President Lyndon Johnson's home state of Texas, and was followed a day later by the killing of Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, while he was in police custody. 

Much of the Nigerians' image of America at that time had been shaped by cowboy movies, which they often believed was a contemporary picture of the United States.  The front-page headline in the local newspaper the day after Kennedy's assassination read "Kennedy Shot in Wild West."

The students were relieved that I and the other Peace Corps Volunteers would be staying on, since they assumed we would be heading home after the assassination--we were "President Kennedy's Peace Corps."

Don Ostrom


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I remember it like yesterday.  I was a freshman at Oberlin College.  I was in my early afternoon German class, and a prospective student and her mother came to class.  They spoke up and told us that JFK had been shot in Dallas, and that it was on the news.  We continued with German.  After class finished, I went over to the Snack Bar to see if anyone knew anything, and the place was pretty empty.  I went over to the dorm and found people watching TV quietly.  A leftist "friend" of mine said that conservatives "like you" had shot him.  I punched the guy in the face and broke his glasses.  He later forgave me.  There was a memorial church service in Finney Chapel that evening at which hymns were sung and tears were shed.  It was hard to keep up on the news due to the scarcity of TV sets around campus, but when I got home for Thanksgiving I caught up.  My brother and father watched Oswald get shot on live TV and were amazed.

Larry Potts


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On that day in November, 1963, Faith and I (newly married and 20 and 21 yrs. old) were walking downtown in Kobe, Japan, when strangers began bowing to us and expressing condolences. Our Japanese language was still very rudimentary, since we had only arrived in Japan the previous July on a three year teaching contract. After about 15  minutes, a Japanese with English proficiency explained that President Kennedy had just been shot in Dallas. We immediately hailed a cab and rushed back to our home to watch the Japanese TV coverage. We were glued to that continuous coverage for the next several days, which included the killing of Oswald. Our country seemed to be falling apart and we felt so far away.

David Wicklund


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My memory of that day is still so vivid.  I was a senior in high school.  We had an AFS exchange student from Chili.  I sat next to her for almost all my classes, as we were really good friends.  When we got the news, we were in Social Studies class, she looked at me and started crying and said, "At the end of the school year, our AFS group was going to Washington, and we were going to meet the Great Mr. Kennedy."  We both cried.

Side note:  I'm still sad that our generation was cheated out of the great things he could have done for our country.

Carol Lawrence


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I was 10 years old and home sick from school watching television. I remember hearing the news bulletin and then calling my mother into the room. She didn't believe me. At first, it was thought that he was only injured, but soon the announcement of his death was broadcast. I think I actually saw the Cronkite broadcast live. Oddly enough, I have always regretted being home from school on that day as my memories of the event are of being alone.  Since I was sick, I couldn't go out to find out what happened in school or what the other kids experienced. In those days, there was no thought of grief counseling for kids. I just sat in the television room all by myself for hours watching the events unfold. I don't remember anyone crying, but I do remember being glued to the television all through the weekend. My uncle and aunt came over and the adults discussed the various options of who might have been behind the killing. In our house, the most likely culprits were thought to be the communists.

Steve Griffith


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At the time JFK was assassinated, I was a junior in High School.  Our football team was playing in the state championship in Metarie, Louisiana; and I traveled with my father and brother to see the game.

We first heard of the assassination when we stopped at a Holiday Inn in Metarie to get directions.  I heard a broadcast on the television in the lobby talking about "the President being shot."  At first, I thought it was a documentary on either the McKinley or Garfield assassination.  (I had not imagined JFK.)  However, when I saw the broadcast and heard place names, the truth struck home.  My father had business downtown, and every merchant had their radios tuned to the news.

My most vivid recollection was watching the 6:00 news with my aunt.  To this day I can hear Jim Garrison (the DA of Orleans Parish at the time) saying that he knew the assassination was a conspiracy centered in New Orleans and he was going to prove it.  In fact considering his reputation as a showboat, the timing of his statement, and his tone and demeanor; his claim had little to no credibility.  (Note:  The only indictment was against Clay Shaw.  Even law enforcement officials with no love for gays claimed at the time that Garrison had trumped up the charges against Shaw because he was gay.)

Oh, by the way, our High School played its football game that evening in a heavy rain.  The score was tied 7-7, but we lost on penetration.  The starting quarterback for our High School died three years later in Viet Nam.

Glenn Barnette


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I was in the 10th grade and had just come back from the noon hour to begin afternoon class, and was greeted with the news by a teary-eyed Miss Walker, my Latin teacher.    I don't really remember any specific reaction from the class, except for the general shock.   Although it almost seemed sacriligious, I remember seeing "Lawrence of Arabia" either that evening or the following evening.  It helped get our minds off the horrible event.

Jim Welsh

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I was a junior at Hamline University (St. Paul), the day John Kennedy was shot and remember vividly walking into the student union Friday morning for a cup of coffee and seeing a group of students huddled quietly around a TV in one corner as the news spread in whispers through the room that someone had shot the President. Unable to vote in the 1960 election, I had nevertheless followed the process closely because like many of my age I was fascinated by the young candidate who seemed to speak for us as over against the representative of the old Eisenhower administration, so all I remember of my immediate reaction was an overpowering sense of sorrow, a feeling that the floor of the known was falling out from under us. I remember the rest of the weekend as "dark," literally as well as figuratively, as we stayed home in rooms lit only by the cold glare of TV screens: droning, sober voices going over and over the accumulating details; drums and horses hoves, and the strains of the Navy Hymn, which I still cannot hear without my throat feeling tight. Other shocks followed (Bobby, MLK); only 9/11 compares with 11/22, but the first shock (of many in our sad, troubled time) somehow remains the strongest.

Claude C. Brew


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I was in fourth grade at a Catholic school (in the days when "the Catholic vote" was 
uttered seriously as a category; Jack was one of us, and it meant something). Sister Christina, who taught kindergarten,
 raced around to all the classrooms on foot blurting 
out the news, as white as her whimpple. Actually, she was telling the teachers, not us  
small fry, but she was so rattled we all heard. We were ordered to drop to our knees and 
start the rosary immediately.
Barbara Fister

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I don't think I've ever put this story down on "paper" before, although I have told it many times. It has a preamble.

In the Spring of 1960 when I was six years old  and not yet in school, I was keenly  aware of  the buzz of national politics going on around me. I am one of those Catholics who was told as a child how momentous an occasion it would be if a Catholic were elected President of the United States. The very possibility that a Catholic Senator from Massachusetts had a shot at the presidency was a constant topic of dinner talk in our  large and extended emigrant family. I might add that the Catholics of Lancaster County (Pa.) were surrounded by open, blatant and mean anti-Catholic rhetoric. I distinctly remember my parents trying to hide from us the anti-Kennedy pamphlets that were circulating at the time; not necessarily because we would read them , but because of the cover art that depicted nuns and priests in suggestive settings.

Given the setting, it was no surprise that when JFK came to give a speech in Penn Square during the primary campaign, the Catholic school kids were given the afternoon off to go downtown with their parents and loudly cheer.  I marched down King Street with my four brothers, sister and mother. My oldest brother wore a huge, three inch campaign button (red white and blue with stars and a black and white portrait of JFK in the middle), my sister waved an American flag. My brother Leo made snide comments. We were far in the back of the crowd on the southeast side of the square. I couldn't see anything but the backs of tall people (this still happens to me often), so my brother Leo had my climb up on his shoulders. He told me I had to because this man was famous. I already knew that and already had expectations about what I would see, since my brother Greg had a picture of the man pinned to his chest. To my great surprise (and what I remember most) is the great shock of red hair that shone in the sunlight. It was a brief, brief glimpse - one of those moments you think is indelibly engraved on your soul, the reruns of which, however, always reveal that something you thought was on the left side was really on the right and a lot smaller. The hair WAS red, however and pictures prove it.

Kennedy's presidency was, for a Catholic pupil at St Anthony of Padua's Parochial School , unknottingly tied to prayers, rosaries, masses and novenas that he would rule wisely and with justice. The Cuban Missile Crisis was, for us, just as much a Missal crisis.The death of a Kennedy baby was the catalyst or explanations of "limbo." Imagine, then, the impact of the news less than four years later, when Sister Marie Therese sent Richard Feister back early from his piano lesson to tell us that Kennedy had been shot. At first, our teacher, Sister Joan refused to believe it. She asked Richard twice, "Are you sure?" and then left the room to confirm the news with her the other nuns. Sister Joan discarded the lesson plan in favor of saying the rosary. While we were in the middle of the middle decade, Tim Keilly came to tell us that Kennedy had died. Tim was wearing a dark grey sweater. Sr. Joan gasped out loud, which added to the confusion we fourth-graders were feeling. They let us out of school early and, contrary to custom, our whole class left by the girls' exit.

Over the next four days I spent many hours at our neighbor's house (they had a TV) sorting out the military ceremonies, the criminal proceedings in Dallas and the endless testimonies. I watched Lee Harvey Oswald get shot on TV. I was the only on in the room. I had to run and tell my parents, who didn't believe me.We had the whole week off from school, but went to a Requiem for the repose of the President's soul sometime during that week. When we returned to school black and white portraits of Kennedy draped with black crepe had appeared in every classroom.


Denis Crnkovic


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When I came out of class on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, students were scurrying more than usual in the hall of the old Classroom Annex (located between where the Student Center and Lund Arena are now).  A passing student reported that Pres. Kennedy had just been shot.  Stunned, I remember leaning for what seemed like a long moment against the electric blue wall, a futile attempt to lighten up with bright paint that dingy old war surplus building.  Then I ran over to the "new" canteen where students were crowded around the TV and confirmed that JFK had been shot and taken to a Dallas hospital where he was reported to be in critical condition.  I ran home. (About 30+ years later, a former student told me that he had been studying all night for a test in my Argumentation and Debate class that was to have been given the next class period of that day,)  Like most everybody, we were glued to the TV.  When we saw, live, Lee Harvey Oswald shot at point blank range by Jack Ruby, I rolled from the sofa to the floor. Our kids became cranky those days, not being able to watch their cartoons on TV.  After four days, our emotional exhaustion was finally relieved when we went as a family for a long walk in the woods, kicking dead leaves on a crisp, sunny November afternoon.

Bill Robertz


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I was living on Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, with my husband and three children under the age of three.  We had arrived just the previous year in time to be grounded on the base during the Cuban Crisis.  When that time was over I was glad that I had not had to be evacuated to the mountains with other women and children since it was only a little time prior to giving birth to my youngest son.

I remember a friend calling and telling me the news of the assassination early that day.  The baby was content in the baby buggy, 
the older children were playing, and I remembered that John John was just the age of my oldest son.  It was numbing to think that a President could be assassinated.  What could follow?

I can still see the telephone on the wall in the dining area and looking out the window, the day was gray and windy.  I imagine the pilots were immediately put on alert.

A sad time.

And I still wonder about it all.

Judith Gardner


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This is what I remember about JFK assassination:

In a big white farm house in central MN I was not happy because for some reason cartoons were not on TV and my parents kept watching TV.  I also remember that my mother received a thank you note for the sympathy card she sent to Mrs. Kenndy and I believe that she has kept that thank you note to this day.

Cynthia L. Favre


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This is one of those "where were you when..." (like first step on the moon, ML King assassination, OJ Simpson "parade in the white truck" etc). I was in the choir room in high school, listening on the radio as the drama unfolded and we stood in shock that someone would actually kill our President...oh for those naive days of presumed safety...even in the midst of a cold war we seemed to have the notion that civility would reign and personal attacks were bad form, at least in this country.

Steve Hogberg


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I remember sitting in the former canteen eating lunch with Dick [former chaplain Elvee] - where the 3 Crowns room used to be -before the 3 Crowns Room, and hearing the announcement over the intercom.  If I am remembering correctly President Carlson made the announcement.

Of course everyone on campus was stunned and for 3 days we all sat in front of our televisions.  We had to borrow one from Ritt Electric as our old one was not working.

Dick organized a service for later that day and faculty and students gathered for prayer and homily and comfort from one another.  It was all a bit unreal and surreal.

Linda L. Elvee



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I was a senior at Cloquet High School (near Duluth), sitting in my chemistry class, when the news came over the intercom announcing the shooting.  I immediately left school and drove my 1955 Chevy Bel Air (yellow and white, 4 door sedan, with a lime green interior) to Radio Station WKLK, 1230 on your AM dial, where I worked evenings and weekends as a disc jockey.

I went up to the teletype machine.  It read something to the order:

"-43w9e3j5 o34mm3o7 jhqw b33em wy95 8h

043w8e3h5n i3h3e6y qw wg33n w95 8n5e9qy

President Kennedy has been shot today in Dallas ... perhaps fatally.

It took three attempts to get the message out.  The person sending the message was so shaken, he/she couldn't get his/her fingers on the right keys.

It was the most difficult death I had experienced at that point in my life.  There have been countless others since!

Jack Niemi

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I was a senior at Washington Senior High in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Some of us got to leave class a few minutes early because we were needed as "monitors" to guide traffic in a building built for 1800, now filled with 3000, students on double shifts.  As I walked out into the hall, Dick (now WHAT was his last name?), a rock-ribbed Republican (who in South Dakota but me and Tom, a recent "immigrant" from Texas, wasn't?), told me the President had been shot.  I told him I thought that was a very bad joke.  My next class was civics.

My family and I watched TV all weekend.  I recall especially these things:  Brahms' Requiem, conducted by Leonard Bernstein from NYC, and the day of the funeral. The Navy hymn ("Eternal Father, strong to save..."), John-John's salute, Mrs. Kennedy's gracious grief, the two younger brothers--and so many, many world leaders (remember how tall Charles DeGaulle looked?)-- walking behind the cortege and that restless, riderless black horse....

I had rung doorbells for Kennedy in 1960. I still have a photo of my brother John, 14, and me, 12, in those silly styrofoam campaign "boaters" with the Kennedy-Johnson paper hatband.  In 1984, in the midst of El Salvador's civil war, I remember visiting an old woman whose husband had been a schoolteacher.  On a small bookcase next to her favorite chair were two framed photos: one of her late husband, one of John F. Kennedy. I still have that photo, too.

November 22, 1963, was the beginning of what was for me a decade-long coming-of-age: through civil rights, Vietnam, Watergate, and the murders of both Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy.  The other night, as I watched (again!) the news footage of Robert Kennedy's victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel--and what followed--I suddenly found myself sobbing as if my heart would break. I cried for ten minutes solid.

Our task is to help keep hope alive...Let's see that we do it.
Mary M. Solberg


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I was teaching and coaching at UW-Stout and that day I was attending the fall meeting of the conference football coaches at UW-Eau Claire. At noon we ate at the cafeteria and I was going through the line with Link Walker, coach at Eau Claire.  As we were pushing our trays along we looked up at the TV monitor located above the check out, and we heard and saw the announcement of the shooting (at that moment the president was not announced as being dead).  The conversation in the lunch room became all about this tragedy.  I recall the afternoon meeting being cut short.  The entire University system was shut down early for thanksgiving week and all activities, including athletic contests and practices, were postponed or cancelled.  This gave me a week to do nothing but sit in front of the TV.  I watched as Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald.  I watched the proceedings leading up to and the funeral of Kennedy.  Time seemed to shut down for those few days and I still remember the event clearly.

Dennis Raarup

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Althought hard to believe, it is true, I was in high school 40 years ago.

At that time - all students took a swimming class.  For the boys - that meant splashing about in the pool sans a swimming suit - as in buck naked.

The teacher - also the wrasslin' coach - walked out onto the end of the diving board - blew his whistle - telling us to all assemble at the deep end of the pool.

He was fully clothed - thank God.

So, you;ve got about 35 boys either hanging on to the edge of the pool or sitting along the side - no clothes.

The teacher slapped his stomach - somewhat like George C. Scott in Doctor Strangelove - then told us of Kennedy's death.

That's all he said - then told us there was 20 minutes left in the pool – continue splashing.

The rest of the day was spent watching tv - no one really talked.

That evening, the fall senior class play went on as scheduled.

Pretty surreal.

Bruce H. Johnson


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I was in my sixth or seventh week of US Army basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO.  Our schedule that day included using the bayonet.
The emphasis was on being aggressive with the sharp pointed knife on the end of one's rifle and this included shouting while countering, then thrusting.
Drill Instructors would sometimes use fictitious situations to encourage a more aggressive response.  Still, when one of the DI's said the President had
been shot I whispered to a buddy that they had never used this kind of encouragement, especially identifying individuals.  Shortly after that we were 
told to fall in and march back to the training barracks.  Worldwide, US Forces had been put on alert and even a training battalion had its place 
in that scheme.
The next day all soldiers at Ft. Leonard Wood were assembled in their units and a proclamation was read declaring the Commander in Chief had fallen.
Then we were dismissed and later went back to the bayonet course.
On the anniversary of Kennedy's death I always think of the images that are associated with his death and our national mourning.  But for over 
thirty years now I also reflect on another  picture so clearly burned in my mind.  I see the rows of young soldiers in their class A uniforms gathered 
to listen to the news of their fallen Chief.  They would become the enlisted leaders of the cadres that would be the army in Vietnam.
Mike Haeuser


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