On Nov. 22, 1963, I was a freshman at Luther High School North sitting in my geometry class when the principal announced over the loud speaker that President Kennedy had been shot. While sitting there in shock, I wrote my sister, who was a sophomore, a letter to pass to her in the hall after class. I still have that letter. I wrote that it was an overcast day threatening a storm and I had a feeling the weather was signifying something terrible.
When the principal asked for our attention my first thought was there was a tornado. Mrs. Roberts, my geometry teacher, broke down in front of the class, which scared us more than the announcement. Most of the girls started crying. Unlike on the day of 9/11, we did not get sent home, we had to go to every class.
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At home the TV became our lifeline. My mother was doing her usual fall cleaning and all the furniture was crowded into a small room, including our black and white set with us gathered around it. The only break was on Sunday when we went to church and missed Oswald's murder.
Having kept that letter, reading it again, reminds me that my innocence, along with millions of others, also died that day.
I have come to realize the power of television to unite, to show us images that can incite, that may shape our opinions and not just present the news. Just witness the unrest of the '60s, the murders of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the images of the Vietnam War, natural and man-made disasters, the O.J. Simpson trial, the Columbine shootings, 9/11 and so much more viewed right in our homes. Our children and grandchildren have no innocence to loose.
Elk Grove Village