Monday, November 22, 2010

Forty-seven Years . . .

Rain beat down steadily into the grey afternoon, and the windshield wipers on my dad's car hardly kept up. He was quiet, and the radio was on as he maneuvered around other cars, other parents waiting for their kids to come out of school.
The announcement had come while I was in science class, trying to wrap my mind around the intricacies of the periodic table. “I am sorry to tell you that President Kennedy has died in Dallas. Vice-President Johnson will take the oath of office in just a few minutes. That is all we know at this time,” droned our principal over the school loudspeakers.
Our class was quiet, and so was our teacher. A kind, absent-minded man, he was at a loss for words. He did not know how to explain what had just happened; he struggled to understand it himself.
The remaining 90 minutes of school passed quietly; no more work was done. We simply sat in our classes, murmuring quietly, wondering what would happen next.
The grey skies, the rain, the quiet -- it was as if we had entered a period of mourning that would not lift for a long time. There would be more assassinations, more upheaval, more tumult to come. Change that had been accumulating slowly seemed to accelerate, and afterwards, time would seem to be marked by that day, the day everything seemed to change.
But just then, getting into my dad's car where he was waiting for me, it seemed as if I had reached sanctuary. He was sad, too, and quiet. He could tell me what would happen next, how our country had provided for such dire circumstances. He could assure me that things would be OK.
He just couldn't tell me why someone would want to assassinate the President.

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