Saturday, November 22, 2003

Forty years ago

I was in law school at Georgetown when Kennedy was shot. I, like all of you, recall where I was when I learned of the shooting in Dallas, and I recall Cronkite's announcement on the TV like it was yesterday.

I didn't wait in the miles-long line to go through the Capitol rotunda to view the coffin (it was freezing cold that day and I had studies, mucho studies that Sunday), but on Monday Georgetown called off classes and I, and my buddies, lined up early on Constitution Avenue for the funeral procession.

Yeah, I recall that too, like yesterday. I know what coat I wore (still cold, and we waited for two hours), and dead quiet. As the place filled up, we backed away from the curb (we were right across from an old hotel, don't recall the name) and found a higher spot behind.

I recall the clack of the horse's hooves (sp?) and the rattle of the wheels of the caisson along the asphalt. I recall my nose was about to fall off from the cold. I recall that for the first time in my life (I'm a western guy, CA and AZ), the tears actually slowed down after they squeezed out of the corners of my eyes. I recall wiping the tears away, expecting ice, but no.

The caisson clacked away, the few soldiers and automobiles behind it were an aftermath. Stuart (my roomate--we lived in an apartment about a quarter mile away from the route) went home and caught the rest of the funeral on TV: the makeshift eternal flame, the salute of the cannons, the black-garbed family, Jackie, the kids, Bobby and Ethel and Teddy.

Jesus. What has happened to my love of such stuff? What happened to my idealism? What happened to America?

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