JFK Assassination-The Shot Heard Round The World

The JFK assassination on November 22, 1963 was the shot heard round the world! Our beloved President was allegedly killed by the Marxist assassin Lee Harvey Oswald under very mysterious, murky circumstances, and it changed the nature and the fabric of our society in oh so many ways…. None of us Baby Boomers will ever forget where we were or what we were doing on that fatal Friday when the JFK assassination took place; like most tragedies it was completely unexpected and out of the blue, and we all had a mixed sense of violation, grief, fear and anger…

It was the complete loss of innocence to an entire generation of young people, I was in high school at the time but I can remember the JFK assassination as though it were yesterday! Nobody could ever have guessed that such a thing could happen in the first place, the assassins bullet tumbling down the walls of Camelot! This happened 52 years ago, and many may have already forgotten the significance of this date in American history, but I myself, and I am sure almost all of us alive then, never can….



When JFK was shot, I was a junior in high school, but I still vividly remember the shock, grief and outrage that engulfed our working class blue collar high school…Nobody could believe it, this sort of violence had never before happened in our peaceful country, and we were glued to our TV sets for the next 3 days watching the whole bizarre aftermath…

We all watched the constant 24 hour coverage of the latest events as they enfolded in a nightmare melange of images and unthinkable actions….The capture of suspected Communist assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, who allegedly shot from the window of the Texas School depository, his subsequent murder in broad daylight in police custody by a gangster affiliated club owner name Jack Ruby….Conspiracy theories abound to this day, including the fact that Oswald was a stooge and that the Mafia had ordered the hit, that there were several shooters etc etc….







But I am talking about my personal reaction here and over and over again, in my mind’s eye I can see the recreation of the fatal bullets striking the President as he was waving at the crowd from an open convertible in downtown Dallas, a right-wing hot bed of hatred for the liberal Kennedy….

Because he was oh so charismatic and so young and good looking and there were large crowds cheering him on until the fatal bullets struck him as well as Texas Governor John Connolly as they drove in that fatal motorcade through the streets of downtown Dallas…The shock and fear and confusion of his lovely wife, Jackie O as she seemed to try and scramble over the back of the convertible looking for help is seared into my memory…All the events of that fatal day are seared into my memory…




I remember watching the grim faced police escorting the motorcade and  rushing the President to the hospital, and then the final grim words on the new universal medium, TV: “The President has been shot, he died in the hospital from wounds inflicted by the assassin’s bullets”…

The networks even canceled the whole slate of Sunday NFL games out of respect for the tragic event, as a stunned and grief stricken nation slowly came to terms to the new reality of the modern world and the excessive hatred that permeated the minds of many…Things had changed, and they would never be the same again…Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President right there in Dallas and then the plane flew home to Washington DC with the grief of a nation following it’s every move…


CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite reports that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite reports that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.


Flanked by Jackie Kennedy (right) and his wife Lady Bird Johnson (second left), U.S Vice President Lyndon Johnson (center) is administred the oath of office by Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes (left) as he assumed the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963. (Photo by CECIL STOUGHTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Flanked by Jackie Kennedy (right) and his wife Lady Bird Johnson (second left), U.S Vice President Lyndon Johnson (center) is administered the oath of office by Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes (left) as he assumed the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963. (Photo by CECIL STOUGHTON/AFP/Getty Images)



Pallbearers carry the casket of U.S. President John F. Kennedy for his burial at Arlington National Cemetery in Virgina Nov. 25, 1963. That day a funeral Mass was celebrated for the slain president at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. (CNS photo/Cecil Stoughton, courtesy John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum) (Oct. 28, 2013) See KENNEDY-FUNERAL Oct. 28, 2013.





It is my generation’s version of Pearl Harbor….Those who saw it will never forget it, and it most definitely impacted our Baby Boomer generation as much as the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor united our parent’s generation, and there are many parallels…

That day will forever live in our memories, where we were, who we were with, what everybody’s reaction was, just like the shock of Pearl Harbor galvanized a nation and forcefully, irrevocably reminded us we were not Fortress America, that we were a part of the larger world, and that things could happen to us here too, just like in Europe…….

Even some of the Japanese military had 2nd thoughts about the wisdom of attacking Pearl Harbor…In the movie “Tora Tora Tora” there is a great scene where one of the Japanese admirals muses to his staff and himself, “We may have awakened a sleeping tiger” That outrageous sneak attack on the sovereignty of a neutral nation fueled hatred and resentment of the Japanese to an extreme degree, and was the rallying cry for the “Greatest Generation”: Remember Pearl Harbor!

So in many ways there was a parallel between these twin tragedies, but as a certified Baby Boomer, born after the war, I remember the shock, outrage and loss of innocence of the JFK assassination as a devastating blow to my young mind, and my entire generation’s psyche…This irretrievable loss of innocence coupled with the young peoples already existing growing resentment and questioning of the materialistic aspects of America in the early 1960’s was a major part of the hippie movement and the Summer of Love in 1967…

All the nascent feelings of revulsion about the American government and the system itself, the “Establishment” as we called our elders, led to political unrest among the students, and it was not just here in the United States…i am not a political person and was never an activist, but the late 1960’s saw student political movements all around the globe, in France, in Italy, all over Europe…







If they were not directly linked together, they were certainly inspired by and infused by the social revolution in America, and it was the JFK assassination that was the direct fore runner and inevitable reaction by the youth of America to the greed, hypocrisy, militarism and “Father Knows Best” condescending attitude of the United States government and the “establishment” in the late 1960’s…

.When the American military made the decision to fight a proxy war in Vietnam to fuel the Cold War with Communist Russia and China it was the last straw for the youth of America…We wanted no part of this political global chess game….

We rebelled in our own separate ways, not all of us became political activists, but we all shared the attitude of “Hell no, we won’t go” to Vietnam the activists promoted…..In fact the great majority of us simply took the advice of Dr. Timothy Leary: “Turn on, tune in and drop out.”

We abandoned mainstream America and it’s collective materialistic mind set in favor of the hippie creed of “Drugs, sex and rock and roll”….We dropped out and tried to live a simpler, more peaceful life, some of us even joined communes and all of us seemingly participated in the greatest non violent revolution of all time, the fabled “Summer of Love in San Francisco” in 1967…


1967, Woburn Abbey, Hippies enjoy themselves at the 1967 Woburn Abbey Love In  (Photo by Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty Images)







But none of this peaceful rebellion would have been possible, here in the United States and in Europe too, except for this this horrible political assassination a few years earlier, which jolted us out of our complacency and insularity and opened our eyes to the real world. It all started with the gut wrenching, shocking, mind numbing disillusionment of the JFK Assassination-The Shot Heard Round The World! I for one, cannot ever, forget it…

For more blogs by John Whye, see: http://www.johnwhye.com


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