Is there going to be a war tonight? Remembering the day John F. Kennedy died | Street Jazz

Is there going to be a war tonight? Remembering the day John F. Kennedy died



“Where were you when _____?” has been become a sort of national past-time these days. Hell, for all any of us know, variations of the game have existed for thousands of years.

“Where were you when that big black monolith appeared out of nowhere and we suddenly figured out that animal bones made terrific weapons?”

It gives us reference points in time and space.

Most of the people I know today weren’t even born when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and it’s hard to describe what it was like, especially for a kid growing up in the military.

It was the Cold War. When the reason we were told not to eat yellow snow wasn’t because of dog pee, but because because it was a sign of Russian nuclear testing. And in Vermont, at Ethan Allen Air Force Base, we always had a lot of snow.

I remember the principal coming in and taking our fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Yendreski, aside, and then her giving us the quiet announcement that the president had been killed. School was then dismissed early for the day.

Though we lived on a military base, we attended a civilian school, so only about half of the kids on the bus would have been kids from the base.

One might think that we would be subdued, but that really isn’t my memory. While we were shocked. We were also full of speculation. Was war looming? Our idea of war, of course - even for those of us raised in the military - was formed by watching movies and TV shows.

Which isn’t to say that some reality wasn’t in the lives in military kids. Some of our parents had food and water in our basements, just in case - just in case of what? We all got blown up? We were forced to live our basements for ten years, drinking bottled water and eating pork and beans?

I can joke about it now, but there was nothing theoretical about it then, and especially not on that cold November night in 1963.

Even after they caught Lee Harvey Oswald, and I saw him killed on live TV the next day ( my shocked father yelling to mother in the kitchen to “Come here! Come here!”) the world wouldn’t return to the path it had been on.

I didn’t even know much about Kennedy. I knew that he was president, and I knew that he was funny at his press conferences, but that was all I remembered about them.

I know that even when my father reassured me that no, there wasn’t going to be a war that night, I wasn’t so sure.

If the president could get killed, then maybe all this other stuff we lived with every day on military bases had deeper meaning, somehow.

The world was very dark for a time, and then got brighter, but for a kid living in the military, I don’t think it ever got as bright as it ever was before.


Quote of the Day

When most of us talk to our dogs, we tend to forget they are not people. - Julia Glass


On the Air - Northwest Arkansas Workers’ Justice Center

Fernando Garcia of the Northwest Arkansas Workers’ Justice Center will be my guest this week.

According to their website -

The mission of the Northwest Arkansas Workers' Justice Center (NWAWJC) is to improve conditions of employment for low-wage workers in northwest Arkansas by educating, organizing, and mobilizing them, and calling on people of faith and the wider region to publicly support the workers' efforts.

Among the topics discussed during the program is wage theft, which is all-too-prevalent in the United States today, especially with workers who do not know their rights, or who to turn to when it happens to them.

Show days and times

Monday - (7pm)
Tuesday - (noon)
Saturday -(6pm)

C.A.T. is shown on Channel 18 of the Cox Channel line-up in Fayetteville.

Those outside the Fayetteville viewing area can see the program online at:

Programs online are shown in “real time,” meaning that they are shown at the same time as they are shown on C.A.T.

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