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posted: 11/18/2013 5:00 AM

Business training class just couldn't go on

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On November 22, 1963, I was 28 and employed by Aetna Casualty and Surety Co. as a classroom instructor in the company's training division in Hartford, Conn. My memories of that afternoon remain vivid. On that Friday, I was scheduled to handle the second hourly class session after lunch. The class consisted of about 35 students, all new to the insurance business and from every corner of the country.

As I was preparing to enter the classroom from my office, the telephones began ringing, and I learned from one of the other instructors that President Kennedy had been shot. It was about 1:50 p.m. Eastern time. I then made a call home to my wife to see if she knew anything, and she told me that Walter Cronkite had just announced that President Kennedy had died.

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My boss told me that I had to gather myself together and take care of my classroom duties. The students had all entered the classroom before the news broke and were preparing for my lecture as if it was a normal day. For approximately 30 minutes, everything in the classroom was normal until a loud commotion broke out in the hall outside the classroom. I could see that the students nearest the door had heard what was going on. I then announced what had happened and dismissed the class.

For years thereafter, I would occasionally run across a member of that class who would tell me that I came to mind whenever they were asked, "Where were you on the day JFK was assassinated?"

Robert C. Haase

St. Charles

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