I was 20 years old on November 22, 1963 and was taking a day off from my job. We didn't have a TV (by choice). around 1 P.M. I turned on the radio (WABC, N.Y.) and they were playing funereal music instead of the usual 'top 40' pop hits of the day, so I knew something was wrong. The ABC newsman gave an account of the shooting of the president and, shortly after 2 P.M. (EST) it was announced that the president was dead. I was shocked.
Even though I was not very interested in politics and wasn't a huge fan of President Kennedy, I respected him. I sensed that the assassination would have negative ramifications - and it did. Escalation of the Viet Nam war and the social upheaval of the late 1960's followed. Like many young Americans in 1963, I was angry that some loon could kill the U.S. president and that Lee Harvey Oswald never stood trial because Jack Ruby took it upon himself to kill Oswald. I never bought into the many conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy's assassination. I believed then and now that while Oswald had communist associations and was anti-American, he killed the president on his own, using a cheap mail-order rifle.
I consider that all the conspiracy theories were simply a reaction to the unpleasant fact that such a momentous event - a U.S. president's assassination in broad daylight by a little weasel of a man, a proven loser - had to be bigger than just Oswald because of who Kennedy was; a handsome multimillionaire in the prime of life (JFK was 46) with a beautiful wife and children, holding the most powerful office on the planet. The assassination upset our belief in the order of things.
Today, a half-century later, the Kennedy assassination still resonates in American culture. Even with many who only know it through books, newspaper articles and TV documentaries full of grainy black-and-white film of the motorcade and the chaos that erupted immediately following the gunshots that killed our 35th president. For those of us who were old enough to live through what happened that day in Dallas, even at a distance, it will always be a clear yet dark memory.