Forty-five years ago, on November 22, 1963, I was in junior high school. Halfway through the school day, at lunchtime, we were outside for recess.
I don’t remember why, but we went back inside. What I mean is, I don’t remember if it was just time to go back in or if it was the wrong time to go in but someone told us to.
I do know that we were told to go to our homerooms, not to our regular after-lunch class. When I got to my homeroom there was a radio on and the teacher was sitting on the corner of his desk, leaning into the radio, listening to the announcer who, we finally understood, was talking about the shooting of President Kennedy.
For some reason the teacher sent me to the classroom next door, I don’t remember why: to deliver a note or ask a question? While I was there the radio channel they had on announced that the president had died.
When I returned to my own homeroom seconds later, everyone was still quiet, listening, and it suddenly struck me that I was the only one in the room who actually knew that President Kennedy had died. I didn’t say anything…I was dumbstruck. Then they announced it on the radio station in my homeroom.
I’m sure it was only for fifteen or thirty seconds, but it was the one moment of that day that has always frozen in time for me, that brief interval when no one else in the room knew except me.