Today fifty-two years ago President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, Texas.
I was eleven and a half years old and in 5th grade at St Peter School in New Brunswick, NJ (in Sister Thomas Anne's class in the basement of what was then a still brand-new building). We were in our seats in the classroom when an announcement came over the PA from Sister Immaculata, our principal, who then lead us in a decade of the rosary.
She spoke to us through the cloth-covered speaker perched high up on the walls at the corner of the room near the end of our school day and in the blink of an eye, for me and all of us in class and for our entire generation and all who followed us, the carefree innocence of childhood was over.
As children, we couldn't fathom what would cause anyone to want to kill anyone else (the violence on our streets and in our homes now was very different back then, and how we gathered and processed information was different as well).
And as we headed home to houses with mothers, fathers and siblings gathered around the radio, there were only three TV stations in those days and 'live' broadcasting was a cumbersome operation, radio was faster and newspapers rushed out 'special editions', I think we all had a dim awareness that something had changed, but we didn't know what and we didn’t know how much.
A half-century later, many of us still don't.