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Brock: Remembering the assassination of President Kennedy

Next Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

People of my generation all seem to remember when they heard the news. I was a 7-year-old living on Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska, where my dad was stationed.

Press Publisher Harvey Brock I don’t remember why I wasn’t in school but I remember my mother crying when she told us kids the president had been shot and killed. My father was instantly put on alert and was gone for a week, and the rumor told to me by my older siblings was that the assassination was a prelude to a Russian invasion.

The fact that Russia was such a short distance away made our state the logical place to be attacked first.

I remember being scared and confused. My only real knowledge of the president was what I had learned in school and on the newsreels at the movie theatre. I knew it had to be really bad, because my mother seldom cried and even a child could see the worry on her face. I later remember my father’s anger at the murder of his commander in chief.

The assassination was my introduction to world news and in many ways the loss of mine and our nation’s innocence.

Before that November day I didn’t know what the word assassination meant but soon it would be reported too frequently with Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Robert Kennedy, and failed attempts on Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.

I was suddenly in tune to the 5 o’clock news and watched the Vietnam War reports after dinner.

I watched as reports on the war’s progress were soon coupled with stories of anti-war protester at home. Anarchy seemed a logical outcome as there seemed to be no end to the war or protests. I was ashamed as news of the Watergate burglary became public, and Iran took hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

I remember thinking after the Vietnam War that America would never fight a war again on foreign soil, but I was wrong of course.

My disbelief that someone would murder a president or national leader simply because they didn’t agree with them was soon replaced with even harder to understand senseless mass shootings. Harder to understand yet is why people kill the innocent in the name of their God.

I remember where I was when I learned of the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, the school shootings in Columbine, Colo., and the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

Anniversaries are meant to be saved for celebrations, but the emotion I felt on those horrific times like many Americans my age are etched in my mind. Fifty years later, like that 7-year-old boy, I am no closer to really understanding why President Kennedy was killed or why any of these painful events had to happen.

Brock is the publisher of The Dickinson Press.

Email him at hbrock@thedickinsonpress.com.

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