Thursday, November 22, 2012
My dad was only 49 years old when he passed away suddenly in the dead of night the second week of September, 49 years ago. He had come home from a job uncharacteristically early that day, a mid-week school day, after whacking his head particularly hard while working in cramped dark quarters -- rather routine conditions for a plumber. He died from a cerebral hemorrhage.
Forty nine years ago today, as he rode in an open car down a Dallas street before a huge throng of adoring fans, President John F. Kennedy was fired upon in sudden spectacular fashion. Television news was still relatively new compared to radio and newspapers, with the Internet not yet even born.
But television came into its own during those dark days. The urgent initial reports from numerous eyewitnesses confirmed that the President had been grievously wounded in the head. One CBS reporter in Dallas quoted a surgeon from Parkland Hospital who was in tears saying the president was gone, but the reporter still dutifully used the word "unconfirmed".
Walter Cronkite, the must trusted man in America, confirmed the horrible, shocking truth that seemed to momentarily stun even him, a consummate professional. And for next few days tearful Americans huddled in front of their grainy, black-and-white televisions, sharing their grief.
Even now, 49 years later, I can still remember the anguish. The overpowering anguish.