Where were you?

I think you know what I mean.

I have a clear memory.  I was four.  I heard it on the radio in the car… a Desoto… wiht my mother.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. majuscule says:

    High school Spanish class. Another teacher stuck his head in the door and gave us the news.

  2. TomG says:

    I was in the high school band room. Some guy who my mates and I regarded as a doofus came down and told us. We didn’t believe him.

  3. slainewe says:

    No memory of the incident itself, but the only memory I have of first grade is of approaching Sister Mary Immaculata’s desk and asking her a question while her ear was glued to a radio, and her showing such impatience with me that I returned to my seat crying. Never remember seeing a sister listening to a radio any other time, so figure it must have been November 22nd.

  4. APX says:

    Not even a thought yet.

  5. jmoran says:

    I was in Mrs. Cumming’s fourth grade class at St. Teresa’s School in Niagara Falls. I remember one time the whole school was outside on the sidewalk to watch President Kennedy’s motorcade go by. I don’t remember when that was, though.

  6. Peggy R says:

    My older brother had just been born that October. I was waiting for Mom and Dad to get it together and get back to business so I could be next. It would be another year plus…

    RIP, JFK.

    Our bishop celebrated a memorial mass for the soul of JFK this week.

  7. David in T.O. says:

    Grade 3 at St. Teresa School in Toronto. The principal, a Sister of St. Joseph, came on the PA and lead us in prayer and then sent us home. By the time I got home, my older brother was in from a Catholic high school, he was crying. The next think I recall was Sunday. We went to Mass, came home for the customary bacon and eggs and then sat down to watch, live on beautiful black and white television, the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald.

  8. Legisperitus says:

    In the mind of God, nowhere else.

  9. OrthodoxChick says:

    I wasn’t born yet, but I remember my parents telling me several times over the years that they were on their honeymoon in NYC when they heard the news on T.V. They were married on Nov. 16th and couldn’t afford a big, fancy honeymoon, so they settled for the 4 hour drive to Manhattan from their home at the time. That ensured that my father never forgot his anniversary, nor the date of Kennedy’s death.

  10. 2nd grade, Mrs. Gregory’s classroom in the Keysville VA elementary school. Sent home early, mom sitting in rocker, holding my 1-year old sister crying and watching the TV.

    fast forward 15 years…had the privilege of working with the reporter from WFAA TV, Bob Walker, who was the reporter who interviewed Abraham Zapruder that you see replayed on various compilation shows. He rarely talked about that interview, but would describe that day in Dallas, if you asked, as ‘surreal’. have a xerox copy of the newsroom desk log from that weekend that I was able to request from the ABC archives while I worked there.

  11. inexcels says:

    Not yet alive. Not even close.

  12. Magash says:

    I was on way way back to school. The Catholic elementary school that I attended had no lunch room and the students went home every day for lunch. So I was on my way back to school and I stopped at the house of one of my fellow students who usually walked back with me. He came out of his house and told me. He informed me that his mom were sure that there would be no school and so I walked on to school alone. When I got there father came on the PA and said all the classes were canceled and they would let the parents know when school would resume. When I got home my mom was crying. We were a big Chicago Machine Democratic family. We had actually been on the convention floor in July 1960. It was a different party back then.

  13. off2 says:

    I, a college student, was working in the shipping department Campbell’s Book Store in Westwood. We had the radio on. KFWB? I remember the break in announcement that the president had been shot. In the gaps between news bulletins, I recall endless recitations of the Rosary to fill time until, later, the pronouncement that he was dead. The national sense of horror that someone would kill our president is difficult to convey to this jaded generation. Even those of us who considered him to be an extreme leftist (whose policies would brand him as a right winger today) were outraged at the assault on our institutions.

  14. wmeyer says:

    High school biology class. 10th grade. One of the more disturbing aspects was that almost everyone assumed he was dead, though we had only just heard that he’d been shot. Of course, later I learned that by the time we received that minimal announcement, he was dead. But that did nothing to lessen my ire at the assumption.

    We had not been attending Mass regularly for some years. My father was Lutheran, which was a factor. However, we did attend on 24 November 1963, and on every Sunday after, till I started college. (Bad influence.)

  15. gracie says:

    Grade 8 at St. Gerard School in Detroit. The principal came on the p.a. system to tell us that President Kennedy had been shot. We were asked to say a prayer for him. A little later she came back on to say that he had died and that we could go to the Church to pray for him if we wished. She said that after that we could go home. I stayed behind – it was my turn to “dust the shelves” – and I told Sister Joseph I wanted to do that first but really I wanted to be by myself; I think to absorb the shock of it. After that I went into the Church.

    It was the year before that we had had the Cuban Missile crisis which was worse, I think, because we were afraid we might be hit by an atomic bomb. I remember the day – it must have been at the worst point – the nuns said a prayer with us and then sent us home early to be with our families. I remember being really afraid and looking up at the sky and wondering if the bomb was going to come down before I got home and tears running down my face and I kept praying, “please, God, just let me get home first”.

  16. The Masked Chicken says:

    This sort of episodic memory of a singular event is called, Flashbulb memory:


    The Chicken

  17. cathgrl says:

    My parents’ first date was the weekend after this event. That should tell you were I was.

  18. HighMass says:

    First of All, as in our Present Holy Fathers words…..”who am I to judge”????

    Well that is what those of us who loved President Kennedy has to say….May God Forgive Him and Grant him Eternal Rest…

    Went to a then Catholic grade School….we had Holy Mass every day at 11:15a.m. PST…..
    AND yes as the church used say a Requiem Mass for the Holy Souls in November….we had just got out of Mass to eat lunch….Sister Superior came over the loud speaker and announced that JFK had been Assassinated, and we were to return to church so Msgr. could say a Requiem High Mass for the repose of JFk’s soul.

    After that we were all told to go home…..what a horrible day…..we were all scared…..wondering what else was going to happen…..those four days in November will remain etched in our minds for ever……

    Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis, Dómine, et fideliter animas requiescant in pace. amen

  19. The Sicilian Woman says:

    I was hanging out in God’s will to be done with cathgrl and a few others above.

    I cannot recall ever hearing my grandparents, parents, nor my older siblings, mention where they were when they heard. If anything secured the aura of the Kennedy family (said aura into which my family has never bought), this event was it.

  20. Angie Mcs says:

    I was a freshman in a public high school in Chicago. walking between classes, when a friend came rushing up to me and asked me if I heard the news. I asked her what news, so she breathlessly told me that the President had been shot, that he was still alive, but it was very serious. . I remember hoping it wasnt’t that bad. Then the bell rang and we had to go to our classes. When we all were in, the teacher said ” Whatever faith you belong to, take time now to bow your heads and pray for our President.” A few minutes later a student came in with a note. The teacher read it to herself, her face turning ashen. She couldn’t speak at first. She just shook her head. Then she quietly told us that the President was dead. A few minutes later we were excused to go home. As I walked out of the building, I saw a number of students crying and holding each other. Our entire country went into shock. The assasination, followed by the live murder of Oswald on TV, was surreal. The coverage on TV went on for days, nothing else was shown. The funeral was terrible to watch, the constant drum beat, the faces of the Kennedy family, his small children, and Jon-Jon with his little salute. It was the beginning of a dark time for this country.

  21. Tradster says:

    Sitting in 6th grade classroom when the principal announced it over the PA. Sister Alberta slowly rose from her desk, listened for a moment, then switched off the PA, saying, “May God have mercy on his soul because he was an awful Catholic.”

    Think about that. She criticized him as a liberal Democrat and as a Catholic in name only (CINO). Can you even begin to imagine an LCWR sister saying something like that nowadays?

  22. Charivari Rob says:

    I wasn’t in the picture yet myself.

    My parents mentioned several times over the years where they were, but I can’t recall for sure right now. They were engaged. For some reason I recall it as them both having the day off and driving somewhere from NYC, probably to eastern CT or to RI, to meet friends at a restaurant for lunch, and they heard the news somewhere along the road.

  23. Bob B. says:

    7th grade in Aberdeen, MD. The school’s PA let us all know. We had a John Bircher English teacher telling us, “Good,” I remember that well.
    The funeral is something I will always remember.

  24. Priam1184 says:

    I wasn’t even a twinkle in my father’s eye yet. But I was watching ‘Four Days in November’ last night and I think I finally am beginning to understand how the assassination, the live murder of Lee Harvey Oswald (my dad told me that at first he thought that the Dallas police had shot him) on national television, and Vietnam which followed on close on its heels totally ripped the guts out of this country’s view of itself and that it has never recovered from that. The man was not a great president, but those four days seem to be the line in the sand in the last hundred years of this country’s history.

  25. Angie Mcs says:

    Think about this as well. A teacher in a public school in Chicago( where the mayor is a good buddy of the President) telling her students to PRAY.

  26. jeffreyquick says:

    I was 7 years old, and at small-town public school (so…2nd grade?). I remember an announcement on the PA, and we were sent home early. I really don’t remember much about the event itself. But I was in dudgeon because the cartoons were taken off the TV.

  27. First grade, Clinton, Conn. They let us go home from school early, but I didn’t quite comprehend why. Then when I got home, my mother was weeping. I remember thinking, “Uh oh, something really bad must’ve happened.” The next day, when the Saturday morning cartoons were pre-empted for the non-stop news coverage, I finally grasped how huge it all was. That event was pretty much the only thing I can remember clearly from age 6.

  28. Tamquam says:

    My father was a Foreign Service Officer serving in Mexico City when the Kennedy’s came for a state visit. Of course a reception was arranged at the ambassador’s residence. The President and Mrs Kennedy went around and shook hands with we Americans who had gathered in the back yard of the residence. I was about 9 at the time, and he looked bigger than life to me. I got to shake Jackie’s hand.

    So when I got off the school bus that November day my cousin Sheila was waiting for us and she told us that the President had been shot. I wouldn’t believe it. So she led us to the TV and there it was. Lord, how we cried!

  29. thefeds says:

    Third grade classroom, St. John The Evangelist School, Deer Park, Ohio, praying with Sister Imeldus and my classmates for the President and the country.

  30. persyn says:

    Home from school (4th grade) Whitefish, MT, for lunch, TV on mom’s soap opera which was pre-empted. Went back to school and we were dismissed and sent home again. We (family) had been allowed an audience (Mom had influence with our Senator) with JFK in person just a couple of months earlier in DC, so I felt like I had lost a friend.

  31. DetJohn says:

    I was in hanger 3 at Otis Air Force Base (60th Fighter Interceptor Squadron) Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I was waiting for my relief so I could to chow, when he showed up he was crying and told me that President Kennedy had been shot. Needless to say that I did not make it to lunch.
    Unlike so many of the other posters, I did not get to go home. A few minutes later the alert bells went off and the Jet Fighters were loaded with Nuclear Weapons. It was the Cold War Era and the Russians were not above suspicion.

  32. Nan says:

    Not yet born. My mom was at work and just the other day told me that a girl she worked with stayed at work and cried the rest of the day; her husband was in the military overseas and she was living with her parents.

    I also learned that mom was watching TV when Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald.

  33. LarryW2LJ says:

    1st Grade, St. Mary’s School in South River, NJ

    Sr. Bogumilla, the principal, came on over our rarely used PA system to tell us the President had been shot. Sr. Rosaline had us stand up near our desks and led us in the Rosary. Shortly thereafter, Sr. B. came back on the PA to tell us the President had died.

    We were sent home early, and we were glued to the TV all weekend. We were all spooked that a war was going to start at any moment. It was a very scary time.

  34. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Born about a week before Bobby was shot.

  35. Kent says:

    In 7th grade at our rural two room school house. No phone. A mother of one of the students drove to the school and, with tears in her eyes, told us the news.

  36. Charles E Flynn says:

    I was in eighth grade home room. An announcement came over the public address system that the president had been shot (not that he had been killed) and the teacher said, “Well, that’s the end of Kennedy.” I could have done without that comment.

  37. Nun2OCDS says:

    In public high school, the principal spoke to us over the public address system telling us that the President had been shot and was dead – no other details. It was during government class. A number of the girls started crying. At this time prayer in public school was still allowed. In “Home Room” our school day began with the Pledge of Allegiance, a reading from the Bible and a period of silence that had replaced the Our Father. So when the teacher told us that the rest of the class we would spend in silence, we knew what she meant.

  38. trad catholic mom says:

    I was growing inside my mother, a miracle child as my father was believed to be sterile. I’m still his only child.

  39. Geoffrey says:

    I was only but a thought in the mind of almighty God; my parents were both 9 years old.

  40. Mike Morrow says:

    I was in sixth grade at a parochial school in north Arkansas. A teacher/nun came out during the lunch recess to announce that President Kennedy had been shot. The entire student body (first through eighth grades) assembled in the church for a Rosary for his well-being. After his death was announced, a Rosary was said for his soul.

    That weekend and Monday saw several Requiem Masses celebrated for President Kennedy at my parish. On Sunday morning following the end of the normal Sunday High Mass, I recall one of the nuns coming out of her convent to tell people going to their cars about the killing of Oswald that had just occurred on TV. For reasons I no longer remember, there were three Requiem Masses at my parish on Monday, the day of the funeral. I served at all three. One was a Requiem High Mass, with the full chant of the Requiem performed by the school’s fifth through eight graders who were not serving at the altar. We boys were trained for either role.

    I was and remain very disappointed that the magnificent solemn beauty of the Requiem High Mass was not celebrated for the President’s actual funeral Mass in Washington. Mrs. Kennedy requested a Requiem Low Mass.

  41. irish-italian mom says:

    On Wednesdays, in my Catholic grade school, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Brooklyn, NY, (Hey! Fr. George in England if you read this blog, which I think you do!) we had a half-day because the public school kids would come for Catechism lessons which were taught by the nuns (Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary). Most of the Catholic school students went home for the last half of the day, but there were some who attended after-school clubs. I was in the children’s choir and we met for practice in our huge church on Wednesday afternoons.

    One of the 8th grade students who was in charge of us (I was in 4th grade) gathered us together up in the choir loft and told us that President Kennedy had been shot and killed and that the Russians were coming to take over our country. She was very descriptive in her foreboding tale of the imminent demise of our beloved America. That’s all I remember! The next thing I knew was that there was a loud echoey bang in the Church which startled me out of my fear-induced coma. I found myself huddled underneath the huge pipe organ, frightened to death. I had no idea when everyone else had left but there I was all alone. I said several hurried prayers, crept down the steep choir loft steps to the front foyer of the Church, and flew down the eight city blocks home to find my mother watching TV and crying.

    That was the start of my family’s several days of nonstop television viewing of the events of that woeful Wednesday. It was also when I learned some new words which were indelibly imprinted on my young mind: assassination; motorcade; secret servicemen. And some new names: JFK; LBJ; Lee Harvey Oswald; Jack Ruby.

  42. Angie Mcs says:

    Sorry- my last comment sounds unclear. I meant to imply that this would hardly happen today- the teacher could easily be sued. Fifty years ago, it seemed natural for everyone to turn to God in our lives, private and public.

  43. TxBSonnier says:

    My parents were 2 and 1 1/2, so I’ll have to ask my grandparents about their memories of that day.

  44. Mike Morrow says:

    irish-italian mom wrote: “On Wednesdays….on Wednesday afternoons…that woeful Wednesday.”

    Young memories can be very inaccurate. November 22, 1963, was a Friday, just as it is today. The funeral took place on Monday, November 25, 1963.

  45. Marlon says:

    I was in the 8th grade in a Catholic school in St. Louis, where it rained all day long. During indoor recess we could tell that something was up–teachers huddled together and whispering, looking upset. First we got the word that the president had been shot, then shortly thereafter, that he had died. My two most vivid memories of that day were the unrelenting November rain and that it was the only time I ever saw my 8th grade teacher cry.

  46. bernadette says:

    I was in Sister Ursula’s 11th grade American History class. The secretary of the school came to the classroom and told us that Kennedy had been shot. We all went to our knees and started praying. School was let out early and while we were in the lobby waiting for the buses the announcement came over the intercom that he was dead. It had started pouring down rain. I was supposed to go to the Sadie Hawkin’s dance that evening with the young man who would one day become my husband. The dance was cancelled. Instead we went to a Mass for the president at the parish church.

  47. lsclerkin says:

    I was in utero. But my mother and father told me where they were.
    They were in Tokyo, Japan. My mom was three months pregnant with me. Dad and mom noticed that Japanese people were walking to their little house, stopping and bowing. Then walking on. They were confused. Didn’t know what was going on.
    My dad went to the little store on the corner and bought a newspaper. A big photo of the Kennedys in Dallas. He brought it home. He could read some Japanese. He said to my mom, I think tge President was killed.
    The people outside kept walking up and bowing to the house where my mom and dad lived.
    My dad tried to talk to them but there was a language barrier until he found someone who could tell him what happened.
    They were bowing there because we were Americans living on the block, and they were paying their somber respects.

  48. yatzer says:

    I was in the 11th grade and sitting in the second seat from the front in the middle of that row. The announcement that he had been shot came over the PA and shortly after that the announcement he was dead. We weren’t let out of school, probably because the busses and drivers weren’ available readily. We had a basketball game Saturday night, which also went on, but considerably subdued. It is quite a coincidence that the 50th anniversary of this event is also on Friday. The world and the country have never been the same, not because Kennedy was so great, but it marked a definite fracture in how we saw things and what was possible. It seemed like when a bottom can in a gigantic pyramid is taken out.

  49. GOR says:

    Walking down the viale of our seminary in the Castelli Romani south of Rome. An Italian confrere came running down the path from the gatekeeper’s house (the only place with a TV at that time…) shouting: ”É morte il Presidente!”

    Unsure as to whom he meant – the Italian president, perhaps? – I asked: “Quale presidente?”

    “Kennedy” he replied breathlessly. And so it was…

  50. trespinos says:

    Second year at UC Berkeley, just sat down for a Friday exam in a course whose title escapes me now. Gradually a murmur began crossing the room as the last to arrive had heard the news. The TA gave us the option of taking the exam or leaving. I left with most everyone else and made my way to the Student Union building to try to watch the TV coverage. The vibe was quite similar to when we had gathered there to watch the coverage of the Cuban missile crisis, only with tears this time.

  51. sunbreak says:

    I was in class at the time – 7th grade, St. Bartholomew in Detroit. I remember the principal announcing it over the public address system speaker. I know it affected everyone. I’m not sure if they gave us the rest of the day off or not.

  52. Susanna says:

    I was a senior in high school in my Civics class when the principal interrupted via the seldom used PA system announcing that our President had been shot. I recall Mrs. Bigus, our unemotional and somewhat elderly teacher, lowering her head into her arms on her desk and breaking down in sobs. School must have been dismissed early, but I did not go home on the bus… I remember walking some distance to the Catholic Church in the center of town. There was already a large crowd and a steady stream of stunned people of all ages continued to fill the church. Though there was no community prayer we were united in our silent prayers.

  53. Tom says:

    I was in Amanda Ellis’s 20th century lit. class. She was late, as usual, but when she walked in she announced that the president had been shot. This was very soon after the shooting, so it was not yet revealed what his condition was. If I recall correctly, class was immediately dismissed and we all went to the student center to talk about it and find out on TV what was happening.

  54. StJude says:

    I wasnt even a thought. My mom was at work and she said she and the other girls in the office cried and cried when the news came over the radio.

  55. Lirioroja says:

    I was in the mind of God. Heck, not only had my parents not even met yet, they were both still living in their respective countries. It would be another ten years before my mother came to the US.

  56. Kathleen10 says:

    I was in grade one, and we were sent home early which was a very big deal because atypically it had nothing to do with a blizzard. I just have the recollection of it being a very serious time. I remember Jack Ruby shooting Oswald better than I do President Kennedy being killed. I remember I couldn’t figure out who was the good guy or who was the bad guy.
    I never forgot a book my mom had later with that photo of poor Jackie in the bloodstained dress, and the photo of Johnson being sworn in. Surreal, yes. None can forget John-John and his salute. Then Bobby. Then later Martin Luther King. Somehow childhood went on.
    That was also the day we lost C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley. Both were of course overshadowed in the states by J.F.K.

  57. RDMaines says:

    I was 3 and I remember watching TV with my Mom to see if we could see my Dad who went to DC to view the casket.

  58. bookworm says:

    I was 7 weeks and 1 day away from being born, so I guess I can honestly say I know where I was!

    My mom (RIP) remembered the event this way: A month earlier, my dad’s father had died suddently of a stroke. When my dad called her with the news, the first thing he said was “Are you sitting down?” On this day, she got a call from my dad’s sister, who also said “Are you sitting down?” She initially thought that something had happened to my dad’s mother, who had been in ill health also and whom she always expected would die first (though she ended up outliving my grandfather by 16 years!). Instead, my aunt told her to turn on the TV because the president had been shot.

    Although she was by inclination a Republican and had voted for Nixon, she grieved as much as everyone else over JFK’s death. She had been pregnant with my brother when he took office, and a friend had actually suggested that she name her baby John Fitzgerald if it was a boy; our last name started with a K so his initials would have been JFK also. However, given all that later came to light about JFK and the Kennedys in general, she and my brother were grateful she didn’t follow that advice!

  59. Lin says:

    I was in eighth grade in the library of Hillside Junior High in Parma, Ohio when the announcement was made over the school intercom that the President had been shot. We were dismissed from school within the hour. One week after the Kennedy assasination my beloved grandfather, who raised me, died of a heart attack. I left my childhood behind on that day. To this day, I still feel the pain of that time in my life. May God have mercy on our souls!

  60. Laura R. says:

    In history class in junior high. Years later I moved to Dallas and was told by people there that the memory was a terrible emotional burden on the whole city. I always intended to visit the Book Depository museum but never made it — have since moved away.

  61. Margaret says:

    My parents hadn’t yet met, so I wasn’t even a twinkle… A dear friend, however, was so struck by all the Catholic trappings of the news coverage, the funeral particularly, that she and her newlywed husband both “took instruction” and were received into the Church. They were daily Mass-goers until their deaths.

  62. Simon_GNR says:

    I was in a similar position as lsclerkin above: I was in my mother’s womb, so I was at home in the early evening (in England) when the news of Kennedy’s assassination came through.

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