For all the peace and love, drugs, sex and rock and roll, tune in, turn on and drop out, these were ten terribly turbulent years which, I think, began on November 22, 1963. It marked the end of innocence.
Sometime after 2:30 PM (JFK will killed at 12:30 central time which put the Virgin Islands 2 hours ahead) our school principal came into our classroom to make an announcement. That in itself was unusual because there was a PA system she could have used. I remember there was a worried or sad look on her face as she stood in front of the class and told us that our president, John F. Kennedy, had been assassinated, shot to death, in Dallas. She said our parents were being called and school would be let out early. We normally got out at 3:30, so our day was almost over anyway. It was also a Friday, so we had the week-end to try to wrap our heads around what had happened.
I was thirteen, very naive, and didn't understand the workings of government. I thought the United States was about to descend into some kind of anarchy, that civil war would break out and the country, as I knew it, would cease to exist.
It's odd, but that's really all I remember of that day. I'm sure when I was picked up, my parents explained things to me and that I was reassured. But I don't know. All I remember is how frightened I was.
Four years later, at 17, I got to spend a whole summer with a family in Arlington, Virginia. We kids were free to roam Washington, DC on our own. We spent a lot of time at the Smithsonian. I saw Macbeth on The Mall, walked up the Washington Monument twice, and stood at the feet of that great statue of Abraham Lincoln.
I also went to the Arlington National Cemetery.
The country didn't cease to exist.
And that summer The Beatles came out with All You Need is Love. What a time to be a teenager.