Friday, November 22, 1963. I was an 8 year-old in third grade at Robert Bruce Elementary when our teacher told the class that our President, John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed.
My searing memory of that day is that I had not cried like our teacher and many of my classmates. I remember getting home and immediately heading towards the bathroom. I closed and locked the door, put the toilet seat lid down and sat on it, bent over and put my hands to my face, and cried.
I'm shedding a tear now as I write this, 60 years later as if it were yesterday. It is my first historical day as an American citizen and the anguish never goes away. Anyone who was old enough knows this day, in their heart and soul. We all share a similar story of where we were on the day Camelot died.
This past week, I watched National Geographic's three-part documentary, JFK: One Day in America. It's also streaming on Disney+ and Hulu, so you can plan for this sobering sit down. I highly recommend this documentary on the 60th anniversary of that day that has been a yearly reminder to me since it happens to always be just before Thanksgiving. I don't remember Thanksgiving in 1963, but it was just six days later after the President had been killed. I'm sure the Thanksgiving prayer around the dinner table that year was a tearful hand-holding extended affair for most families.
Now as an 8 year-old I had no idea that another event happened on that same day, the release of The Beatles second album, With the Beatles. That in itself is not significant compared to the assassination of JFK, but just three months later, The Beatles would come to America on February 7, 1964. On February 9th, The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time and gave a reeling nation a release of pure joy, and a spark to the healing process.
The timing of these two juxtaposed events kicks off my experience of the 1960's. It makes me think of Pete Seeger's song taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes and made famous by The Byrds in 1965, Turn, Turn, Turn.
A time to kill, a time to heal. Assassination and Vietnam, baseball and rock 'n' roll. The Beatles had come to America and love was going to win over hate.
Enjoy the lad's second album, and their hit single, I Want to Hold Your Hand, released November 29, 1963, with the B-Side, I Saw Her Standing There.
Happy Thanksgiving my friends.