It was an average day in the life of Cheryl Merrick at 13 years old and living in Garden Grove, California. She was in the 7th grade and remembers being in English class when she heard about the event. Her teacher received a note and then started to cry. “Which was shocking because this was a teacher who didn’t cry” (Merrick, C.). The teacher composed herself after about five minutes and then told the class that “Our President has been shot”. Many people in her class cried and even though she didn’t cry she remembers feeling very sad, sad for the President, sad for the nation, and sad for his family.
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Cheryl remembers “Our teacher said we could offer prayers, and then everyone started talking in low voices trying to convince themselves that he really had died.” (Merrick, C.). For the rest of her classes and throughout lunch it seemed like everyone was in a daze. The whole school was quieter than usual. They put the flag at half mast, and had a moment of silence before school was let out.
By the time she got home she had realized what had happened but still felt stunned. She proceeded with her after school chores and remembers her family being glued to the TV. They watched it for hours which then turned into days. She spent much of her time thinking about John F. Kennedy’s children and how would they be okay without their father. When news came about Lee Harvey Oswald being caught “She felt a sense of relief knowing he wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone else.” (Merrick, C.). As I live in a society where shootings are an everyday occurrence I wonder what my feelings would be if this were to happen today with our current President. I am sure there would be some shock and sadness, but not to the magnitude that everyone felt in 1963. I don’t think I would be leaving work half way through the day.
When Cheryl said her teacher said they could pray I thought, wow and wondered, in today’s society would be something that would be thought of and told to anyone to help bring comfort. The country felt it was a personal attack on them as individuals, and their everyday lives, they looked to the comfort of home and the television for guidance. Through my interviews and research it appears many people became very sad and felt truly lost. When Lee Harvey Oswald was caught, and then several days later, people turned to anger.
In conclusion, with all the influence we have today from social media, the internet, TV, plus our friends and family it can be hard for us as individuals to form our own opinions about things without any outside influence. In 1963, people did not have many outside influences but, as a general rule it seems that most had the same feelings of sadness, anger, and relief throughout the days following the assassination. No matter what emotion American citizens turned to in 1963, one thing that continues to unite us all is that while so many of our historical events are memorable, few are as remarkable and left as lasting of an impression as the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
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