I Have No Memories of JFK, and Why That Matters

President and Mrs. Kennedy arriving at Love Field, Dallas, Texas, 22 November 1963. Photo by Cecil Stoughton; downloaded from Wikimedia Commons; public domain image.

President and Mrs. Kennedy arriving at Love Field, Dallas, Texas, 22 November 1963. Photo by Cecil Stoughton; downloaded from Wikimedia Commons; public domain image.

All this week, people have been asking the question “Where were you when you heard Kennedy was killed?” Mom was at home. Dad had the later shift at his service station and was getting ready for work. The milkman (yes, the milkman) had just stopped at the house, making his delivery, when the news broke on TV. Mom and Dad invited the milkman in to watch the news with them. Mom remembers Walter Cronkite breaking down when he announced that the President was dead..

As for me, I have no memories of it. Not because I was too young to remember. I wasn’t born yet.

I’m used to being the youngest in the crowd. I’m the youngest in my family. I’m the youngest of my grandparents’ grandchildren. I was among the youngest in my high school graduating class. Until a few years ago, I was always the youngest in a gathering of genealogists. I’m used to the discussions that revolve around events that I missed. (“Remember that time we <blank>? Oh, that’s right. You weren’t born yet.” Sometimes, I think my sisters enjoy those conversations a little bit too much ;) )

People have expressed almost sadness that I missed this key event in the nation’s history. On the one hand, it would be interesting to be able to carry on a conversation comparing notes of “where were you.” But on the other hand, there are lots of key events that I — and a lot of my friends — have missed. Pearl Harbor. The 1929 Stock Market Crash. Lincoln’s Assassination. Fort Sumter. The Treaty of Ghent. Washington’s first inauguration. Lexington and Concord.

I look at my great-niece and great-nephews and realize that events that I do remember vividly — things like the space shuttle Challenger and 9/11 — are things they they will only hear about from others. They have no memory of them.

So why does it matter that I have no memory of JFK? Because others do, and they need to record those memories for those of use who don’t. And for others like me who don’t have those memories, we need to record our “where I was” stories for the key events in our lives, so that the youngsters of today — and those yet to be born — will know.

9 thoughts on “I Have No Memories of JFK, and Why That Matters

  1. Denise

    Let us hope the “too young to remember” children will only have happy events to hear about. I realize that probably will never happen but wouldn’t it be great?!

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      For some reason, we tend to skip over the things that we have witnessed and experienced. We long for accounts from our ancestors; we need to remember that future generations will have the same desire to learn of our accounts.

      Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Thanks, Cathi. I was talking to someone earlier today and she remarked how easy it is to forget that we don’t all have the same experiences, even with something like this. We all need to share our own story.

      Reply
  2. sheryl

    it is too bad you don’t remember, not because i think he was the greatest president, but because he was young and they were both so stylish and the world at that time seemed so optimistic even with the threat of nuclear war around us. it seemed like we were more or less loved in the world, and the kennedy’s were much admired by foreign rulers–i remember jackie going to afghanistan (sp?) and it was a very westernized place compared to its neighbors–look at it now! mind you, i was only in 6th grade when he was assassinated, but i will never forget space exploration and the hope for the future which i no longer feel.

    Reply

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