If you’re young like myself, who wasn’t even close to being born yet — I guess the best way to explain what 50-years ago today, felt like, is: There was November 22, 1963, before September 11, 2001.
I never saw John F. Kennedy as a president or get shot, and I never witness — thank god — a president of the United States get shot. But the way people talk about that very day 50-years ago, who were around to witness that tragedy, talk about it the way us young adults, in our 20s and 30s, talk about September 11th, 2001 when the World Trade Center collapsed. That same sickening, dark feeling and sadness I had in 9/11, is the same way someone in their 50s and/or 60s talk about JFK’s death.
My mother and I were, ironically, in the same place when these events occurred — in school. My mom was in the 5th grade for the Kennedy assassination, and I was in the 7th grade when the Twin Towers went down.
My mom always tells me the story of 11/22/63 when she was in school, as a young girl. She flashes images with words in my mind of her teacher, with tears in her eyes, coming in the classroom, saying the tragic news to the classmates, then immediately telling everyone to start praying for JFK.
Now, in 2001, when I was school in 9/11, I first found out by one of my classmates looking outside the window and asking my english teacher: “Why is there smoke in the sky?” Then my teacher(she) responded: “Well, I’m not suppose to tell you guys this, but a plane crashed into the World Trade Center.” As my teacher said that, on the corner of my eye I see the assistant principle(he) passing by our classroom and stop, because he overheard what our teacher said. He gives my teacher a blank, confusing stare with his hands raised — as if to say, ‘what the hell is wrong with you’ — and my english teacher simply told him: “They asked, so I had to tell them”.
And it’s not just my mother and I being in the same place when these tragedies happened, many of our parents were in the same place we were in 2001. It’s “art imitating life” — just not in a positive way.
Just like how our grandparents, or parents tell us about 1963, is the same way we’ll tell our future kids about 2001.
R.I.P JFK and God Bless America.