Where were you?
I was 9. Probably in the 4th grade. Living in the only world I knew, the almost utopian realm of the small, southern town. It probably wasn’t as perfect as I remember, but it was my world nonetheless.
We were sent home from school early. What happened?
I had no knowledge of John F. Kennedy other than the fact that he was The President of the United States and, therefore, my President.
I’m pretty sure my town, given the political climate, was probably not pro-Kennedy but what did I know about political climate from the 4th grade? Or care.
But that didn’t seem to matter on the 22nd of November, 1963.
All the adults were very upset about a lot of things. First, the obvious and then the rumors (that I heard about later) of conspiracy and all sorts of sordid business. What was going on?!
We watched Walter Cronkite of the CBS news choke up as he delivered the word that “at 2:38 PM, President Kennedy died”.
Who knew the fallout or the timeline that would reveal the details and the ongoing banter over who was really to blame, who really did it, etc.
And now we mark it in decades. Where has the time gone?
Since then, you and I have experienced more grown-up sadness and loss. We’ve gotten older and face the consequences of those losses. The innocence of youth and it’s naïveté’ has past. The depths of helplessness have introduced themselves to us and although we’re never prepared for it, we face it and live.
Where were you? May 16, 1997.
In the early hours of that morning, I woke up and grabbed my chest feeling like I was being shocked. I’ve never had a heart attack (thank You) but I imagined “This must be what it feels like to have a heart attack”. I went back to sleep only to be awakened by a phone call from my brother. “Dad’s gone”. I had been there for over a week, decided I had to get back home for a few days, then I’d come back to be with Dad. I came back to bury him instead.
Where were you? August 14, 2012.
Mom had been in the hospital for over a week. Kidneys failed, we had her in hospice care. I went to dinner that night after being at her bedside for days. A good friend came and we took some time to get away. When we were about a mile from the hospital, my brother called and said “You need to get back as fast as you can”. I drove aggressively and my buddy parked the car as I ran from the lobby to the elevator to the floor where my mom was staying. As the elevator door opened, I heard crying. Too late.
April 1, 1977. August 28, 1980. October 25, 2008. January 6, 2009
These are dates for which I have concrete answers to the question “Where were you?”. Today, as a nation, we’ll rewind the tapes and relive some of the memory of November 22, 1963. And hopefully, reflect, learn and apply. But then you have those personal dates. I think it’s ok to visit them. But if I might . . . don’t get stuck with in the rewind.
For whatever reason, God has breathed life into us again today.
The Lord is my Shepherd.
Blessings to you all