I was in Mrs. Gaddis’s class in the second grade at San Jose Elementary School in Pomona, California when Mr. Montieth, a fifth-grade teacher across the lawn, told our class that President Kennedy had been shot.
I remember crying that day. How could someone kill our President? Wasn’t he invincible?
I watched on television two days later when Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald.
I flew to Dallas, Texas for the first–and so far only–time in my life in 1993 just to be there. I met others who were on a life’s quest to be that place; to visit the grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza. I met witnesses from 30 years earlier; none of whom believed–including me–that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman that history has claimed him to be. I listened to his widow Marina speak. She, too, doubts the official conclusions about the man she was once married to.
Some significant piece of my innocence died that day. I don’t know how else to explain it. I’ve been a suspicious person ever since. My trust of government–of authority–has been tainted since that day. Some truths have been buried. Some questions have never been answered.
And today we are mired in an economic crisis. We are mired in mistrust of our current president and in hope for our next. Life is uncertain. The future is unknown. And I haven’t seen a single news item today about Kennedy’s assassination. Maybe I’m just getting old. Maybe it’s just old news. Maybe too few people are interested. But it seems to me that mistrust of our government began–at least for my generation–that day in Dallas in 1963.
I’m thinking about John Kennedy today…