All Americans had to Eat: The Thanksgiving after President Kennedy’s Assassination

Americans have been obsessed with the assassination of JFK since it occurred on November the 22nd of 1963. A new spark to the conversation has happened since the recent release of sealed records regarding JFK’s assassination.  President Kennedy was laid to rest three days before Thanksgiving in 1963. To understand what it was like the Thanksgiving after President Kennedy’s assassination, I turned to my grandmother. She was always the history buff of our family. At the age of 83, she struggled to remember the big event. She admitted, to my surprise, the Thanksgiving of 1963 didn’t stick out more than any other. With her hand on her face, she looked down to the floor and described it as a very solemn time in the United States. The more we talked about JFK’s assassination the more her mind recovered lost memories.   

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“We were peaceful Americans, who were very very proud of President Kennedy.”

She goes on to share her impression of John Kennedy as a handsome man from a wealthy family. A former war hero who served also in Congress and the Senate.

“Although I don’t think I ever voted for him.”

Even though he won by a narrow margin, the whole country tuned their televisions in on the coverage of his assassination. In 2013, Tierney Sneed wrote an amazing article How John F. Kennedy’s Assassination Changed Television Forever” outlining the rippling effects of the news coverage from 1963 affected the United States current standards of breaking news coverage. 

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“I was stuck to the television twenty-four hours a day. Everybody had a television in those days and the coverage started instantly, within seconds after he got shot.”

My grandmother, ironically sitting in front of a television, although much different than the one she had in 1963, says for three or four days she sat in front of the television. She declares she was glued to the television until his funeral. Coverage of the assassination, intermittently intertwined with hymns and GrandmasBlog1patriotic music. Thanksgiving was six days later after the Presidential assassination and she could finally turn the television off. This day she and her husband cooked and celebrated a day of thanks with their children. I am thankful that I still have my grandmother around to share her experiences of major moments in our country that I have only been able to read in history books.

 

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