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22nd November 1963


Sixty years ago, on the 22nd of November, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States of America was shot dead in Dallas, Texas.  It was an event that shook the world, myself included, as I was approaching my sixteenth birthday.

Anyone who was around back then can surely remember where they were and what they were doing when the news broke.  I can remember it very clearly; my parents, my younger brother and I were watching Emergency Ward 10 on the television.  We were surrounded by boxes packed ready for our move from Lichfield to Meaford, near Stone in Staffordshire.  Suddenly the television screen (black and white) went off as did the sound apart from a gentle hum.  This was nothing new as televisions back then often blacked out.

Eventually, a male voice announced over the black screen that reports were coming in that the President of the United States of America had been shot and was being taken to hospital, further updates to follow.   Then later the same voice announced that the President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy had died from gunshot wounds.  Again, we were told further updates would follow, and the black screen and gentle hum continued.  I remember that the television did eventually come back on but was now full of what little bit of information was available.

As the shock of what had happened sank in, we all for some reason went outside into the dark evening into the street, where some of our neighbours had already begun to gather.  The shock resounded with everyone, as such an event was beyond belief, but soon a sense of fear crept into the talk, and the talk of a possible world war was mentioned as the United States was already at loggerheads with Russia over the Russian presence in Cuba, was this tragedy connected??  Having been born after the Second World War ended and only ever known peace, the thought of world war really did frighten me.

But I can also remember the great feeling of loss coming upon me as I realized what it meant for our generation.  You see John Kennedy was to many of our generation back then a symbol of hope.  He was the youngest President of the United States, he had charisma, he had youth, and he had a lovely wife and two beautiful children, and we latched onto all that and it gave us a sense of hope for the future.  But now the dream was over, the bubble had burst in such an unbelievably tragic and horrible way.

Our parents who had gone through World War 11 were although greatly shocked, perhaps a little immune to it all, but for me and many of my age we lost something that day -that final bit of childhood innocence, we finally grew up to the harsh realities of the world we were about to become part of.

I know I left my childhood behind on that day, the day the hope for the future died in a Texas town on the 22nd of November 1963.

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