Jeanette Stokes

November 22, 1963

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“I walked out of my seventh grade English class on the afternoon of November 22, 1963 to get a drink of water. I was twelve. While drinking from the fountain in the hall, a male voice came over the loudspeaker, “We have just received news that the President of the United States has been shot.” Less than an hour before, that same hallway had been teaming with life, as hot young bodies pushed and shoved their way to the next class, slamming locker doors and squealing as only early adolescents can. But as I stood alone at the drinking fountain, stunned by the unimaginable, the hallway seemed frighteningly empty. The beige glazed-blocks of the wall in front of me were unsympathetic and the green terrazzo floor unyielding.

Later that day, I learned President Kennedy had been shot while riding in an open-top limousine in a motorcade in Dallas. Texas, my Texas, just fifty miles from my beloved grandmother. How could that be? Horrible things weren’t supposed to happen in places you could picture. Kennedy was pronounced dead at 1:00 p.m. at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where my father had once been a medical resident. Later on that day, Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested and charged with murder.

That would have been unnerving enough to a budding adolescent girl, but that was only the beginning.” –Flying Over Home, Jeanette Stokes (2013, Words & Spirit)

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