November 22, 1963

November 22, 1963 12:30 p.m.,

November 22, 1963 12:30 p.m., (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

There are dates that change one’s universe and that is no understatement.   September 11, 2001, December 7, 1941, and  November 22, 1963….

This is a date that lives vividly in my memory.

In 1963, I was in college.

It was a simpler much more naive time.  It’s hard now to believe how isolated we were in those pre-cable news days.  The college campus and its environs constituted my world, and that small planet ended at the local movie theaters.

It  was November  and Thanksgiving was around the corner,  with a well appreciated break coming from the usual round of studying, tests, and college life.

In many ways John Kennedy was a distant figure, as presidents were then.  Real only in the sense that he appeared on television but far and away, as presidents had been from the time of George Washington on.  That he would be killed or even could be killed was far from my mind.  I don’t even remember hearing that he would be in Dallas, Texas.

On Friday November 22, 1963, I was crossing the Quad on campus going to a scheduled biology laboratory session,  when someone grabbed my arm and said “the President’s been shot.”

It didn’t even sink in.  “What president, where– how “– my mind couldn’t grasp it.

Our professor, an older gentleman,  refused to cancel our laboratory and  as the news went from bad to worse and we learned, hunched over our microscopes, that Kennedy had died.   It was hard to focus on the task at hand.

The next few days were a blur, my still shocked parents retrieved me from college and I remember going to a memorial service for the dead president.   I suppose  we had a Thanksgiving dinner but do not remember it.

Then another shock, watching live television,  Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald – the accused killer of the president.

Deutsch: Warren Commission Exhibit #2636 en:Im...

Deutsch: Warren Commission Exhibit #2636 en:Image:Ruby-shooting-oswald.jpg sr:Слика:Ruby-shooting-oswald.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are dates that change one’s universe.

November 22, 1963,  for me personally, would lead to flying combat missions in Vietnam and a loss of close friends, but that is a story for another time….

For the nation , it began a period of upheaval in American life that still haunts us today, 50 years later.

About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in American History, Family History, Genealogy, Hobart College, Norvell Family History, Social History, The Kennedy Assassination and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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