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Letters to the Editor

That was the memory of our generation

Fifty years ago does not seem like yesterday.

It seems like half a century ago.

In 1963, color TVs were as rare as Japanese-made cars.

We had few McDonald’s and no Starbucks.

Southern voters were still post-Civil War Democrats, on the cusp of becoming post-Civil Rights Act Republicans.

We were young, and we had a young president.

That was a long time ago.

AND YET, WE ALL remember where we were, what we were doing that day when we heard.

And we recall it in great detail.

“We” are, of course, mostly baby boomers and survivors of the preceding war years, even a few who outlasted the Great Depression.

The Kennedy assassination was our moment of realization, as Pearl Harbor had been a generation earlier, and 9/11 was a generation later.

Those events changed our mindset, changed how we felt about the world, and about ... well, about everything.

Maybe the change wasn’t conscious.

But it was, like those horrific events, very real.

WE APPRECIATE that more than three dozen of our readers shared their memories of Nov. 22, 1963, with us.

You read some of them in Friday’s editions, and others today.

All were different, and yet all were the same.

People were in school, at home, at work.

They were scattered throughout the country, and around the world.

And all of them remember vividly.

We thank them for sharing those memories.

IF YOU HAVEN’T taken the time to read those brief remembrances, make the time.

If you lived through it yourself, you will relate.

If you’re too young, you will learn.

Those 50-year-old memories are painful, reflective, probably even a little therapeutic.

Fourteen-year-old Cindy Gorzeny was sitting in her eighth-grade math class at Morrison Junior High School.

Sixty-four-year-old Cindy Engelkens of Morrison could still take you to that classroom and that seat where she was sitting when she heard.

Ramon Bernal of Sterling remembers the model of the John Deere tractor he was driving when he heard as a 16-year-old who was preparing to plant cotton in a Mexican farm field.

Judy Hite of Polo recalls being in her second-grade classroom. Although she didn’t fully understand what was happening, the 7-year-old knew “it was something bad.”

We all remember.

OUR SORROW WAS shared by people wherever we were.

Dawn Deets of Dixon remembers the condolences expressed by tribal people in Vietnam, where she was doing mission work.

Cordelia Benedict of Franklin Grove was at an archaeological field camp in southeast Turkey when word arrived, which brought expressions of sympathy from villagers.

Military men and women and their families were stationed around the globe, on alert, far from home.

No matter where we were, we were all in the same place.

SCARY AND SOMBER. Dazed and shocked. Numb and crying.

Those were some of the words our readers used to describe their own and others’ feelings and reactions to the news.

Disbelief. Who would want to kill our president?

And many prayers.

We still don’t have all the answers. We never will.

But we have those memories. And always will.

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