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    Posted October 15, 2013 by
    San Diego, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    When you heard JFK was killed

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    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     gailpowell was 8 years old when President Kennedy was killed. 'What upset me the most was seeing my mother so upset about what happened to Kennedy. I was young but I understood enough that something terrible had happened and that many people were very sad.' After his death, she said she began to fixate on death and what happens to people when they die. Her mother reassured us that 'Heaven awaits us Catholics and Jesus will be right there when we go.'
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    Finally! Hallelujah! At last!


    My age here at CNN iReport has given me an advantage! All those young whipper-snappers that are usually posting here were not even a gleam in their father's eyes at the time this happened in November 1963.


    You see, I am old enough to remember the terrible day that our President was shot and died in 1963. It is indelibly stamped into my soul even though I was in the second grade at the time and did not really understand all that was going on.


    I do recall that I was going to the elementary school cafeteria to get lunch and I could hear a radio playing. One of the cafeteria workers was crying! I asked someone what was going on and I will never forget what I heard: "The President has been shot."


    Now this was a time for young children that was fraught with scary times and things that would stir up anxiety and fear. The Cuban Missile Crisis had made safety drills de rigor where the kids would hear a siren and hide under their desks. The Cold War was on and it just seemed to me that the world was a dangerous place.


    So when I heard the news about the President, I thought that maybe his plight might have had something to do with our country having been in such a tense situation.


    However, hearts were heavy at school and the sense of despair hung in the air. By the time I got home from school that day, I came in to find my Catholic mother sobbing in front of the TV.


    You see, our Catholic family, from New England, and more specifically--Massachusetts LOVED the Kennedy's. Our relatives had a summer house out on Cape Cod near the Kennedy compound at Hyannisport. My uncle was a Massachusetts State Trooper and had guarded the Kennedy's through the years.


    Our little Marian-worshiping family voted Democrat in the Presidential election of 1960. When JFK rode in a motorcade on El Cajon Blvd. near San Diego State University, my parents brought us to wave at this first Irish Catholic U.S. President. We listened as he gave a speech. I got the feeling that my mother, like many other women of the day, found JFK very attractive.


    But the sight of watching her cry broke my heart. I asked what was wrong and she then told me the President had died in the hospital.


    The next few days were long dark ones. Now we hear of CIA conspiracies or that LBJ had a hand in Kennedy's murder. There is conjecture that the Mafia were mad at the Kennedy's or that Cubans were upset and wanted him killed. All I know that it was terribly sad and that Camelot had died.


    The barriers Kennedy helped break that allowed Catholics to ascend to the Presidency were huge. His tragic passing also blew holes in the hearts of those of all religious persuasions--nationwide. I will never forget.

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