It’s a horrible word. No leader should have their life snuffed out at the end of a gun. Agree with their politics or disagree, “an eye for an eye” is inhumane.
I know the word. I know November 22, 1963. U.S. President John Kennedy travelled to Dallas, Texas to make a speech. Mid-morning in Toronto, I was a Grade 10 student heading to String Music class. Our teacher was a fiery one, passionate about music and about us giving our all in class. She was late. We were tuned up and ready to go. Ten minutes we sat. “She’s never late.”
And then the door burst open. Our teacher smashed into the room, crying. “Kennedy’s been shot!” I was fourteen, plenty old enough to have the shock blast through me. Disbelief, sorrow, anger – all were swirling among us. “This can’t be.”
I went home for lunch and sat glued to our black-and-white TV. Kennedy was fighting for his life in Parkland Hospital. My face was ash, my mind swirling. Then it was my job to go back to school, so I did.
We the students got to watch TV some. The CBS anchor, Walter Cronkite, filled the screen after a commercial:
From Dallas, Texas, the flash apparently official, President Kennedy died at 1:00 pm Central Standard Time, 2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.
The rest is a blur.
Some 50 years later, I walked into the String Music room at Lawrence Park Collegiate to find a choir settling in at the beginning of a period. I introduced myself to the teacher, told him I was a graduate of the school, and said that something stunning happened in this room a long time ago. “May I tell the students?”
And I did. Many 17-year-old faces softened and saddened.
May young people and old people never have to live such moments
in the current day