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HOLMBERG: Where were you when JFK died?

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Just a few times each generation there are events so significant, you can actually feel time slow down and almost stop, lighting  flash frames of reality in your brain that can be revisited over the years just as clearly as any handful of photographs.

For many of those  55 or older, news of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination  struck vividly, permanently in their minds.

I was seven. I can still clearly see my mother at her ironing board, watching the small black and white TV on the dresser. steadily ironing and steadily crying. I didn’t feel the scope of the events through that little TV, but it was broadcast with great significance through my mother.

JFK and his family felt like family to many Americans. They had already mourned with the first couple when their infant son, Patrick, had died three months earlier.

He was a young, robust, decisive, iconic leader. They were a glamorous Life Magazine cover couple. We were making cars that were strong and fast.  The American dream, for the most part, was bright, reflecting the gleam from the White House.

We spoke with Richmonders who remembered that day as one of the worst for the nation they can remember.

As one woman said, it was the first time she felt afraid as an American.

Please share your memories of that day here.


  • Dan Urich

    The day RFK was assassinated my family was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina while my father was on a one year assignment as an UN ambassador to that country. I was eight years old and attending a Spanish speaking elementary school there when the announcement regarding Kennedy came in. Partially due to the country’s distrust of the Communist party and it’s standing with the US, it was feared that the assassination may be due to a communist threat. The schools were closed immediately and all students were sent home. Despite the fact that we were over 5000 miles from the US, for days the news was filled with accounts of the assassination and funeral. There was great mourning in Argentina as JFK and his wife were truly admired there. It is a memory that is still very fresh in my mind.

  • M.L. Adams

    Last period, phys ed class, at Huguenot High. Couch Hirshberg, usually stoic, as most high school coaches are, came into the classroom with red, tear streaked eyes to tell us. We were dismissed right then, and went outside to find the buses already lined up. Most kids were walking around like spaced-out zombies.

    Like many people, every year when November 22nd rolls around, I wonder about where the country would be, if JFK hadn’t been killed. Would we have a wall in D.C. with the names of 58,000+ men and women inscribed on it? Would racism still be as rampant as it is today?

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