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November 22, 1963: 50 Years Ago Today

By   /   November 22, 2013  /   Comments

The Year was 1963. I graduated high school in the spring. In the early fall of that year, a small group of musicians got together to see if there was a way to form a small orchestra. There were a lot of practices while we tried to make music together. The group eventually became the Albany Symphony Orchestra.

Later in the fall, a very good friend of mine was killed in a an automobile accident on her way back to college. I thought it was the most awful event I had ever experience. Little did I know.

Not that long after the accident, I was sitting at my desk at work and the telephone rang. I answered as always, the voice on the other end screamed at me, “Oh my God they shot the President”. It was my mother on the phone and she was almost crying. Her words made no sense to me. Who was shot? Why was someone shot?

We were not on a 24/7 news cycle then and rarely heard about people being shot other than an occasional accidental shooting locally.  I questioned my Mother and learned that the President was in Dallas and someone had shot him. He was on his way to Parkland Hospital at that time.

To say I was stunned was to say the least.

The conversation ended and I went to tell my boss what had happened. He shared the news with my co-workers and someone turned on the radio.

A while later it was announced that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was dead. Lyndon Baines Johnson was now President. We heard the police were looking for the gunman. Before the afternoon was gone, they arrested Lee Harvey Oswald.

My boss sent me home and closed the business for several days.

We watched television almost continuously for some time afterward. The day came when the police walked Oswald down a hall at the police station and we were watching as a man approached the group, pulled a gun and shot Oswald, live and in living black and white.

Once again, there was stunned silence. Jack Ruby was arrested and taken away.

With Oswald’s death that soon after the assassination, there would never be answers as to why he did this. Was he an agent of another government? Was he hired to kill the president? These things were unknown.

The conspiracy theories began soon after these events and continue to this day.

Most Americans’ lives changed on November 22, 1963. I know mine did.

There are many new books coming on to the market with “answers” to the questions we’ve been waiting 50 years to learn. The Warren Commission said Oswald acted alone. Most people I knew didn’t believe that.

But most of the conspiracy theories have been debunked. I don’t believe there will ever be answers in the remainder of my lifetime.



Bonnie Jefferson serves as the Managing Editor for The Albany Journal.

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