Everyone in the media old enough to remember Nov. 22, 1963 is chiming in on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Why not me, too?
Young Steve Moseley was 14 the day it was announced in school our president had been shot in Dallas. I wish I could tell you the depth and breadth of my emotions at the instant I heard the news, but truth is I simply can’t remember.
I know my classmates and I were collectively stunned and I definitely remember many of the girls weeping openly.
What I recall in more detail than that first shocking announcement is what followed on our black and white television over the next week.
Our school days were largely given over to following this living history lesson that was playing out before our very eyes.
I remember Lyndon Johnson being sworn in while airborne, Jackie Kennedy at his side. It’s a certainty people my age have not forgotten her vivid pink outfit and that flashy pink, pillbox hat.
What color could have run more contrary to what took place that day?
Jack Ruby’s arm extending and Lee Harvey Oswald’s grimace as the bullet struck is branded in memory, along with all those stone-faced detectives, FBI and Secret Service types with guns drawn. They seemed to be everywhere.
The Zapruder film took ‘horror movie’ to a place even Alfred Hitchcock could never approach. It was incomprehensible to see Jackie crawling out onto the trunk of the convertible, eventually to learn she was trying to retrieve a piece of the president’s head that had been blown there by Oswald’s bullet.
We didn’t know if our society would survive intact or not. It did. We didn’t know if America would ever fully recover. It didn’t.
Two images remain with me far and above any others from the assassination; one a sight, the other a sound.
The sight is John John, JFK and Jackie’s son. The memory of this tiny boy standing on the edge of the street, saluting his father’s passing casket as his mother stands beside him, the black veil of mourning draped over her face, is burned into my brain forever.
The sound that accompanies that indelible vision of John John that resides in my head is the rhythmic clip, clop, clip, clop of the horses slowly pulling the carriage that bore the body of our fallen president.
Watching the procession on TV was mesmerizing.
Some 300,000 people lining the route from the funeral to where President Kennedy was to lie in state with not so much as a cough heard from anyone.
In my memory lives a silence so thick you could almost touch it right through the old Philco TV. A silence broken only by the hollow, haunting clack, clack, clack of horseshoes against the street with a subdued drum beat for accompaniment.
I wish to God we’d never had to see it.
I hope to God we never forget it.