Remembering JFK

I’ve been following @todayin1963 as NPR tweets the events leading up to and news coverage after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago. I keep trying to imagine what that day must’ve felt like.

I’ve only lived through a few moments in history that I can recall where I was when I heard the news.

When President Obama won the election in 2008, Tevis and I were with our friends, The Aldermans, huddled around their giant flat screen as the votes were tallied. We were newlyweds. I felt a sense of hopefulness for our future. I imagined that the children we’d have someday would see the 44th president of the United States as a symbol of change. They would not doubt how far their dreams could take them.

On September 11, 2001 I had just come back home after graduating college. I was sitting in my parents’ family room, at the computer, looking for a job (I had my heart set on children’s book editing at one of the publishing houses in NYC) and my Dad called to tell me to turn on the TV. I watched both towers fall and spent the rest of that day crying.

Today I asked my mom what she remembered about this day 50 years ago. She was in the 3rd grade. She attended a Catholic school in Indiana. The principal came into her classroom and announced that the President had been shot and killed. Everyone cried.

We exchanged emails all day about her memories of November 22, 1963 and other moments that impacted her over the years. I saw history from a different perspective and heard anecdotes about my family I had never known. Why hadn’t I thought to ask her these questions before? I guess I’m realizing for the first time that my own history starts long before me.