If you were alive and sentient on this day 48 years ago it is a day you will never forget. It is a day that has to be the same as December 7th 1941 was to my parents and grandparents. It is also a day like September 11, 2001 is to all of us who experienced it.
I was a young paratrooper in Heavy Mortar Battery (HMB) 1st Airborne Battlegroup, 325 Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. For whatever reason, (I can't remember exactly - other than I had been on a detail) I missed Noon chow. Instead of going hungry I went to the Bowling Alley right behind the 82nd Division Chapel (which is at the intersection of Ardennes and Bastogne) to get a hamburger. While eating my hamburger I was mindlessly sitting in front of the TV in the area with tables. It was approximately 1:30 EST when a "News Flash" come on with Walter Cronkite. He said there was a report that someone had fired a shot at the President's motorcade. The soap opera came back on (which I promise I wasn't watching) and then a few minutes later Walter Cronkite came back on saying that President Kennedy had been shot and was being rushed to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, TX. Again the show came back on a very short while later a very somber Walter Cronkite came on stating that the President was dead. This was over the course of time that it took to eat a hamburger, so not very long. I was shocked to say the least and I instinctively knew that this event would have many far reaching repercussions.
I walked the short distance back to the barracks to find out that the 82nd was on DEFCON 1 (highest) alert status. I was informed that the Division was on lock down and that everyone had been recalled from pass and leave. All of the doors to the barracks were chained shut with one left unlocked with a guard assigned to watch it. The married soldiers were recalled back to the barracks and we could not leave the locked up barracks except to sign in and out for 30 minutes to go to the branch PX in our area.
We stayed in this situation though the Kennedy funeral (which we watched on the day room TV). A large number of us were watching the TV on November 24th when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald in the Dallas Police Station garage. We also watched the state funeral events including watching the sad procession and burial of President Kennedy on the next day November 25th. I remember all of this, and I will think of it every November 22nd, those memories are fresh with me.
I always have a sense of sadness on this day because of the nations loss of a President by an assassin. I often think of what might have been but we will never know.
So many people don't think of this date because it occurred before their birth and also because history is no longer taught as I believe it should be, but those of us who were of an age to understand will always remember this date.
Edited by KneesInTheBreeze, 22 November 2011 - 01:26 PM.