I was very young when president John F. Kennedy (JFK) was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas.
I was just six years old and in the second grade at Nolan Grade School. But I can remember the teachers whispering about something, even though I didn’t quite understand at the time, I knew something horrible had happened.
That was 50 years ago today. I’m sure many of you remember where you were when you heard the tragic news of Kennedy’s assassination.
I’m not sure, but I think we were sent home early. I also think they called school off the next week on the day of the funeral.
I can remember me and my fellow classmates trying to absorb the enormity of the event. Even though our young minds were still obviously immature, we nevertheless grasped the fact that something terrible had occurred.
I know when I got home, my mother was crying. She, like many others, loved JFK. He had been to West Virginia and spent time campaigning here in Mingo County and in Williamson. His caravan went through little towns along U.S. 52 from Kermit, to Naugatuck, to Nolan to Williamson and many others.
He was a popular president.
But Kennedy was fatally shot by a sniper while traveling with his wife Jackie, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally’s wife Nellie, in a presidential motorcade in Dallas, Texas.
Kennedy, perhaps like no other president before him, had a special connection with West Virginia. His 1960 primary win in this state showed that a Catholic from New England could win in a southern, rural union state in the heart of Appalachia.
History tells us that it was his win in West Virginia that catapulted him to the nomination over fellow democrat Hubert Humphrey.
JFK was a young, well-liked president who seemed to bring our country together during the Cold War with Russia. He stood up to Russia during the Cuban Missile crisis.
He stood for Civil Rights and wanted to help the poor in the inner cities, in the narrow hollows of Appalachia, in the heartland of America’s Midwest and all across the United States.
As I grew older, I was always interested in JFK and the assassination.
Many of us “Baby Boomers” grew up with the conspiracy theories and wondered who actually killed our vibrant, young president on that November day back in 1963.
After a 10-month investigation in 1963–64 by the Warren Commission, they concluded that Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, and that Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald before he could stand trial.
This is still a somber anniversary for many. Public television has been airing several shows on Kennedy and his legacy the last few days.
Now, 50 years later, I can still remember that horrifying day that altered the history of our country.
This date will always be remembered.
No matter where you were at that point in time, November 22nd will always have a special meaning for many of us in Mingo County, West Virginia.
(Kyle Lovern is the sports editor for the Williamson Daily News. Comments or story ideas can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com)