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JFK assassination: 60 years later

It’s one of those moments in time that those who were around can tell you exactly where they were and the thoughts that raced through their head when they heard the news.

Like Sept. 11 or Neil Armstrong’s first step on the Moon, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is something that will forever be etched in the memories of those who are old enough to remember that tragic day.

Nov. 22 marked the 60th anniversary of JFK’s assassination in Dallas as his motorcade traveled through Dealey Plaza.

The Boulder City Review asked residents who recalled that day how old they were at the time, where they were and their thoughts.

Dick Stephans

I was a 28-year-old Army captain when JFK was assassinated and studying for a graduate degree in engineering at New Mexico State. My wife Jo, a 5-month-old daughter, and I were living in married student housing at the university. It happened while I came home for lunch and “As the World Turns” was on TV. Walter Cronkite interrupted the program and we watched during arrival at the Parkland Hospital, and we saw Cronkite make his tearful death announcement. We were numb. How could anyone do this to someone who had so much promise to improve our nation? What’s going to happen to the U.S.? Additionally poignant was at Arlington or along the procession and seeing young John-John saluting. What a tribute that he and Jackie gave us.

Jim Calhoun

I was 25 and stationed at Izmir Turkey, Cigli Air Base (1,200 miles from Moscow). The Cuban Missile crisis was just over, we had destroyed our Jupiter missiles as part of the deal Kennedy and Khrushchev made.

Rumors flew, I had two young ones that were born in Izmir, my daughter on Halloween night 1963 and I was considering sending them to Ireland to their grandparents. It was a scary time, but not as bad as the year before.

Sara Carroll

I was 9 in fourth grade in Prairie Village, Kan., on a cloudy, rainy day. We were at lunch and an announcement came on in the cafeteria. We had a sub that day, but when we came back to class, there was some discussion about it. One kid asked if Barry Goldwater was going to be the president now! I remember we were all subdued, and at home all weekend we watched footage and reports on our black and white TV. When we came back to school, our teacher asked if we learned any new words. I feel like assassinate was the word I learned. I read the papers because I was really interested in all the details. It was a very sobering experience, and I still have many images in my memory.

Richard Angora

I was 16 and in high school, they announced it over the PA system. The Kennedy family was American royalty. Teachers and students were crying and confused. The funeral was watched by the whole country. The only comparison I can make is 9/11. Everything seemed to stop. Time stood still. I watched on live TV as Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. Students and teachers just seem to be roaming the halls at school quiet, except for the crying. I enlisted in the Army just five months later. When I got to Germany, people told me they were on the ship going over to Germany and they all just stopped and were waiting to find out if there was a war starting. You have to remember, the missiles of October a year before when we all were on edge with the Soviet Union. We watched as little John John saluted the coffin, the horse-drawn carriage with the boots placed backwards. Walter Cronkite was in tears as he announced the president was dead. I truly believe the country changed that day.

Fran Haraway

I was a bookkeeper for Phillips 66 in Las Vegas. A wonderful lady named Doris worked with me. When we heard the news, Doris, a native Texan, said in an absolutely stricken voice, “They’ll always blame Dallas!” And, for years, they did!

Charlotte Folkman Ayres

I was 19 on Nov. 22, 1963 and was attending Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. My birthday fell on a Friday that year and my roommates had planned a party for me to celebrate. I was excited to have friends over and enjoy an evening together. I was sitting in one of my classes when the announcement came that JFK had been assassinated. At around 12:30 p.m. he had been shot in the neck and head and at 1 p.m. he was pronounced dead. The world just seemed to stand still. No one could fathom that such a thing could happen. Classes were dismissed for the rest of the day and we gathered in groups to talk and mourn. Tears and emotions were shed and shared. My roommates went ahead with the party and friends came but there was no laughter or joy. I only remember sad faces, somber expressions and quiet talk of the events of the day. This will forever be my most memorable birthday in a very dramatic way.

Steve Ainsworth

I was 12 years old and attending Roy Martin Jr. High in Las Vegas. I remember I was sitting at the outside lunch tables with friends, no indoor cafeteria, and there was an announcement over the PA system that President Kennedy had been shot. I felt apprehensive as this was the time of the deep cold war and not too long before that time we had been traveling and I saw some missile launchers at the ready with missiles on them. Nuclear war was the big fear for us at the time. I believe that I did not find out he had died until I got home. All three TV networks had the identical coverage from then until after the funeral. Then Martin Luther King, then Robert Kennedy.

Judi Anderson

I was 12 years old and in the seventh grade in Flagstaff. I was in a brand new elementary school, so we were fortunate to have a TV on a tall, rolling stand that they rolled into our classrooms. The seventh grade got the TV for this tragic unfolding news story. I remember our teacher was crying and that had us all crying too. It felt sad, confusing, and scary, all at the same time!

George Jenkins

I was an 18-year-old sophomore at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. I remember it was a cold day and as I left the dormitory and was walking across campus to my class, I noticed a larger-than-normal number of students outside. Many of them were shouting “The President’s been shot!” “Kennedy is dead.” I remember being shocked, then immediately sad. Like many Americans, I was mesmerized with this war hero with a beautiful family who had the dream and the vision of America being first to place men on the moon and return them. It was hard to understand why someone would want to take this person’s life. I had earlier seen President Kennedy speak at UC Berkeley when in high school. I think that experience instilled in me a feeling of familiarity that did not resonate with other politicians. Interestingly, many years later, I lived in Dallas. My office was just a few blocks from book depository where President Kennedy had died.

Kristie Zobrist

I was 7 years old, at school in my second-grade classroom when I heard about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I remember looking up at the framed portrait of the president hanging on the wall and feeling scared and worried. Learning about the president and seeing his picture in school had always made me feel safe. In my simple child’s mind, I wondered, “Who will take care of our country now? Who will protect us? Will anyone else know what to do?” A few days later while watching the funeral procession on television, I saw my father cry for the first time. The images on our black-and-white TV of a horse-drawn caisson, the flag-draped casket, the riderless horse, and the sound of somber drum beats and hoof beats made a lasting impression on me.

Judith Hoskins

I was 24 years old and living with my husband, Roger, at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Roger was the supervisor of the reserve pay for the Army. The fort was put on high alert when the message came through the radio. We were heartbroken when we heard the message. On Oct. 13, 1960, I hosted a tea party for his mother, Rose Kennedy, in Pekin, Ill. And on Nov. 3, 1960, President Kennedy was in Peoria, Ill. campaigning for the presidency and I helped with the plans. You can only imagine the feelings of despair, fear and confusion we felt.

Matt Di Teresa

I was 5 years old. It was a Friday afternoon and I was in Mrs. Drew’s kindergarten class at Hardyston Twp School in Franklin, NJ. About an hour before school was to let out, Mr. Trudgeon (our principal) appeared at our door and Mrs. Drew stepped into the hallway to speak to him. At the same time, all of the big, yellow school buses pulled up out front. Mrs. Drew returned and told us that we would all be going home early. We could tell that she had been crying. When I got home, all of our neighbors’ wives were in our living room watching our TV. Some were crying, too. My mom was serving them coffee. She let me go out to play in my school clothes and I thought that was weird. I met my friends at the playground and we played stickball until the streetlights came on. At dinner, my father explained what had happened in Dallas that day. My mom started crying again.

Susan Kohlman

I was 6 years old on Nov. 22, 1963. I was a first-grader at Victoria Avenue School in South Gate, Calif. I was in class when the news of President Kennedy’s assassination was announced over the loudspeaker. My only thought when I heard the news was that the world would never be the same again.

Robert Lahay

I was 21 at the time of President Kennedy’s death. When President Kennedy was shot, I was a junior in college at Michigan Tech in Houghton, Mich. I had returned from class and was told by my roommates that President Kennedy had been shot. We didn’t have a TV so information about the shooting was conflicting on the different radio stations. Being young students, we were all in disbelief that someone shot the president. Why didn’t the Secret Service protect him? How did this happen? Where did it happen? My roommates and I gathered together and said a prayer for the Kennedy family and especially for his young wife, Jacqueline. We didn’t hear that the president was dead until later in the day. This news came with great sadness and the big question of why and by whom. The answer to that question still has not been completely explained to this day.

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