“JFK: The Day That Changed America” aired Monday, November 17 at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC. Share your memories with us and we will post some of the on the web, and share them on air as well. Below are some of the e-mails you’ve sent MSNBC — all a testament to the resonance of the events of 40 years ago.
Name: Gail Hofmann
Hometown: Clifton, New Jersey
My parents don’t have a computer, but they gave me their memory of the event. My father worked as a Chief Switchman for NJ Bell Telephone in 1963. Shortly after 1 p.m. EST the entire office “froze” which means that all the relays on the old electro-mechanical switch seized since every piece of equipment went busy due to extremely high call volumes. My father had an emergency line and he immediately called my mother at home to see if she had heard of anything happening. My mother was listening to CBS radio and had just heard that the President had been shot. She was able to tell my father the cause for phone lines jamming. Needless to say, that condition remained for the rest of that Friday.
Name: Dr. Joseph Adegboyega
During his term as the President of USA; I was a young teenager in my country of birth (Nigeria). Even deep inside Nigeria, in my hometown-Ondo in Ondo State-which is at least 7,000 miles from the coast of this great nation, every one loved and admired him. Barbers cut people’s hair in his style, called “Kennedy” style. Even my maternal Uncle took the nickname of “Kennedy.” In later years, he was baptized as “Kenneth” during baptism at St Matthew’s Catholic church Ondo. The death of President Kennedy was very painful to us all. It was felt like he was the Beloved President of the World.
Name: Alicia Ashby
I am a New Englander, but was working in Columbus, OH in the basement of an office, building when an employee burst through the back stairs door and announced to all and sundry that the president had been shot. I was 22 years old. We all scrambled for radios and listened until the whole city virtually shut down at 3:00 PM and we were all sent home. I watched proceedings on television all weekend, all by myself. How godawful lonely that was. We all adored our first family. I cried all weekend, rarely stopping. My mother, living in Maine, said she had been shopping over the border in Canada, and when she went through the Canadian customs, she was told she’d best hurry home, that her president had been shot. It was a terrible, frightful time.
Name: Dennis B. Follett
I was a senior at Villanova University. I was buying tickets for a basketball game when I heard the news. I went back to some of my friends and told them, They thought that I was kidding. I somehow got back to my off campus room and went down to the local bar, Kellys, to watch the news on TV. When Kennedy’s death was announced, the entire bar was mixed between anger & tears over the assassination of our president. It was the most moving day in my life until the events on Sept. 11, 2001.
Name: Jean Stenzel
President Kennedy was shot on my 4th birthday and what I remember was my mom being upset on my birthday which was usually a happy day. It was a day when time stopped, no matter how old you were at the time.
Name: Mike Evans
Hometown: Tampa FL
I had just seen JFK a few weeks before in a motorcade in my hometown near Eglin AFB. On the 22nd I was in a school bus on a road trip from Fort Walton Beach to Tallahassee FL. I was in the band and we were going to a HS football game. The Band Director stopped the bus and told us. We were devastated, JFK was idolized in and around that part of Florida. The half time show was cancelled and a music professor from FSU strode to the middle of the field and played taps. I will never forget the emotion of the moment. It was my first experience with public tragedy. Sadly, it was only the beginning.
Name: Rosemary Baker
Hometown: Denver, CO
I was a young woman at home watching television when it happened, and I will never forget Walter Cronkite coming on the air and crying when he had to announce our President’s death. I watched for days as he arrived back in Washington, as he lay in state in the rotunda, as his beautiful young wife walked through the capital with world leaders, the rider-less horse with the boots on backwards, and those incredible children and John-John’s salute to his father. My little daughter was only one year old, and I knew we had lost much, much more than a president. We lost our country.
Name: Anna Augustine
I remember that day very well. I had ordered a set of Colliers Encyclopedias and they came that day. The mailman was there delivering them and came in our house to watch with us. Not knowing what life held for us, we were glued to our black and white TV for days. It was a very sad and scary time. John Kennedy is the only Democrat I have ever voted for. It stands in my memory along with World War 2 and Sept. 11th.
Name: Betty Barlow
Hometown: Grove Hill, Alabama
I too was a freshman at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, and had just returned to my dorm room after lunch. I remember standing at the sink and hearing some girls in the hall talking about it. Although I cry so easily, I didn’t cry then, tears came later in those sad days that followed. When I heard about his death, I knew that something so horrible, yet so significant had happened— that it was beyond the simple tears of one southern college girl, who unlike most of her fellow students, thought JFK was a wonderful president. I, like many, have remained interested in all things “Kennedy,” because a link was established that day in Auburn that continues to this day.
Name: Richard Neffson
Hometown: Rohnert Park, CA
I was sitting at my desk in Mrs. Goldstein’s fifth grade class when the principal came into our classroom and announced that President Kennedy had been shot and killed. For the next three days I was glued to the television watching history unfold. Today, I teach U.S. History at the high school level, and I share with my students how history can turn on a dime when an unexpected and tragic events takes place. It is my hope that students will appreciate that President Kennedy was a complex individual who was at an important crossroad in his own political life when he was taken from us.
Name: Peggy Flanagan Keller
Hometown: Grass Valley, California
It is a day and a weekend that is forever etched in my mind. I was in 10th grade in a French class in Littleton, New Hampshire, when our guidance counselor, Mr. Bove, came on the intercom and announced that the President had been shot. I remember crying and feeling so sad. That weekend I wasn’t allowed to go out with my boyfriend. He came to my house and we watched TV for hours. I couldn’t believe when I saw Jack Ruby kill Oswald right on the TV. It all seemed surreal. I wrote a sympathy card to Mrs. Kennedy. I got a response back thanking me for thinking of her and her children. I still have that. I have magazines and newspapers from that time period as well.
Last summer I went to the JFK Library in Boston for the first time. I tried to find the message I wrote to Mrs. Kennedy and was surprised to learn that many were lost or destroyed. My heart felt weak when I heard this. I wanted so badly to see what I wrote and feel connected to that era again.
Name: Mary T. Malloy
Hometown: Sarasota, FL
I was in third grade at St. Francis of Assisi School in Springfield, PA. Our teacher announced that the President had been shot and we all needed to go the church and pray for him. We marched along with the entire school to the church where we found out the President was dead.
To this day, I am amazed at the overwhelming expression of grief by my fellow third graders. As I recall going through the next three days, witnessing the horror, sorrow and anger from my parents and neighbors will always be a clear memory. We all wept as if we lost a family member. In my Irish Catholic neighborhood, we believe we did. It is this event, I believe, that changed America and perhaps made us aware that we vulnerable. President Kennedy was loved by all and this tragedy may well have set the trend of dysfunction and unrest we experienced through the sixties and into the seventies.
Name: Bob Pinzler
Hometown: Redondo Beach, CA
As a high school student interested in politics, the JFK assassination began a downward spiral of cynicism that found its nadir in Bobby’s killing. As impactful as the JFK shooting, was the live broadcast of Oswald’s. I had never seen anyone shot. Most people hadn’t. It shocked me to see someone actually do it. It is an image I have never been able to get out of my mind. I’ve always considered the events of November 1963 as a series of interlinked shocks to the system — and also the beginning of a social and political tsunami that still has aftereffects today.
Name: Joseph B. Raskin
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
I was standing in the school yard at my public school P.S. 289 in Brooklyn. I was in the 6th grade at the time. Two of my classmates came running across the playground, yelling for our teacher. They had just heard the news about the President.
Miss Bronstein, the teacher, took us inside until the Principal dismissed the school early for the day. When I got home, my mother was completely distraught. I had never seen her like that before, and she was never again like that. Any time that I go past the school yard, I can still remember and see the exact spot that I was standing at the time.
It’s hard to explain to my children what that day was like, or what it was like to have a President who was so young and gave us all such a sense of optimism. I still miss him.
Name: Earl L. Cunningham
Hometown: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
I was born on November 22. In 1963 I was in graduate school at a Catholic university. As the word spread that the president had been shot, people openly wept and classes closed down-there was a great heaviness that enveloped the campus. I spent several hours with my voice teacher, a former diva with several European opera companies. We listened together to the radio reports as the news was breaking. She was very distraught, weeping and sobbing as it dawned on us that the young Catholic president was dead. These were very uncertain times. I have celebrated 39 birthdays since that terrible day, and every one has been spent remembering what happened to us all in Dallas.