“Mrs. Allbright came back in and turned off the record player. She was crying and sobbing. We were too little and barely understood what she is saying. “The President is dead,’ she told us. We began to cry as well. The bell rang and we slowly walked out the door. I began the short walk home in a tear-dimmed haze. I stopped to cross busy Roosevelt Boulevard. I remember wondering why the cars kept moving so fast. Didn’t they know the President was dead?”

“The call came through the public address system into Mrs. Audetat’s sixth grade classroom,” remembers author Cynthia Ruchti. “I can still hear the collective gasp that sucked the life out of the room when we heard the words, “The president has been shot.” Within the space of those five words, our safe Midwestern small town lost a layer of its innocence. We became part of a shocked country, then a grieving nation when the intercom rasped the words, ‘The president is dead.’ Our teacher sobbed aloud while we 12-year-olds tried to swallow, unable to process the unthinkable. Our studies ground to a halt that day, but in some ways, our education was just beginning.


John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“Recently I visited the Texas Schoolbook Depository in Dallas and the site the president was shot,” muses author Dr. Jeffrey Johnson. “To my surprise, deep feelings came bubbling up. With teary eyes, I was reminded how everything rises and falls on leadership. Kennedy, to me, exemplified leadership with conviction – human flaws notwithstanding. He represented the true American ideal of equality, determination, hard work, and justice mixed with mercy. He dreamed big, and Americans believed.”

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