, Salem, MA

Local News

November 22, 2013

Nov. 22, 1963: Where were you when Kennedy was shot?


Peter LaChapelle


‘It seemed like everything stood still’

President Kennedy, although a Democrat, transcended party lines. I think we were all proud to have him as our president. My family and I had visited Washington, D.C., for Easter in 1963, excited and proud in the knowledge that our “hometown boy” was the president of the United States! My mother collected plates, and we returned home with one of President Kennedy, which was proudly displayed in our home, along with his picture.

I had just turned 10 years old in November of that year, and every Friday after school, my friends and I walked from school to Calvary Episcopal Church for choir practice. When we arrived, our choir director gave us the horrible news that President Kennedy had been shot, and she took us all into the sanctuary to pray for him. We didn’t know that he had died until we arrived home. It seemed like everything stood still and the entire country was in a state of shock. For the next several days, we were all glued to our little black-and-white television sets as the dramatic events of the next few days played out.

Susan Ortins


‘A stunning but surreal moment’

I was a seventh-grader at Annunciation School in Danvers during the last class of the day — fixated on the second hand of the clock, as was my routine every Friday. At the strike of 2 p.m. our principal, a woman normally in full control, announced over the intercom with a quivering voice that our president had been shot and called us to pray for his recovery.

It was a stunning but surreal moment. At the age of 12, it is difficult to immediately reconcile harsh reality with imagination, so I opted to suppress any feelings of upset — until the irreversible news came out 20 minutes later.

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