Ready for the quiz question? Where were you on Friday November 22 1963? Those on the gray hair side of things will answer and know exactly where they were. For my generation it is a ‘where were you’ moment. It is one of those significant moments like the day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon or in 1972 when Henderson scored the winning goal in the Canada Russia hockey series. We sometimes forget we were 34 seconds away from international humiliation.
On this day Friday November 22nd nineteen sixty-three, the shots rang out in Dallas Texas and John F. Kennedy – thirty-fifth President of the United States was assassinated.
Kennedy wasn’t the only one to die that day as police officer J. D. Tippit was shot dead far from the Kennedy murder scene. Officially it is said he was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald who is said to also have killed Kennedy.
The reason for speculation, conspiracy theories and a lack real conclusion is because within days Oswald was murdered by night club owner Jack Ruby. This we know for sure as Oswald was murdered on live TV.
For many today the suspense and tension might not be realized. For those too young to remember or think of this event as one from ancient history let me lead you through the door to another time.
In sport, we often got the world championship hockey game in a can shipped by plane and televised the next day. It was of no consequence as we heard it on radio the day before.
There were three American TV networks and for most of us the CBC in Canada. Television was in black and white and we got the picture from an antenna or rabbit ears as we called them. There were no cell phones, no internet, no game boys. We paid attention to the news. We trusted our news media, politicians and police.
The events in Dallas were visions we were clinging too until a day or so later when the man -Jack Ruby- got access to the police garage and murdered Lee Harvey Oswald the suspect in the Kennedy assassination. It seems to be the first day we opened our minds to question. It was limited though. From there the flood gates of conspiracy theories, doubt, and confusion engulfed us all. For more than half a century the search for answers continues.
The doubt and suspicion surrounding the Kennedy murder gave way from questioning everything to societal rebellion and the anti-war movement that provided unrest until the seventies. It provided the window of doubt that fanned the flames of discontent and the destroyed the image of Richard Nixon and his cronies.
The shots that rang out that November day in Dealey Plaza in 1963 still ring with an echo in our ears and we feel the shadow of mistrust and dissatisfaction to this day. Yes it was an American event but the ricochet effect killed the mythical image of Camelot. We lived in limbo until 1968 when a resurgence of positivity returned with Trudeau mania.
America is still dealing with the deafening ring of those shots and they are blind from trust with the flash of bright light from the smoking gun.