JFK- A Third Grader Remembers November 22, 1963

Weekly Reader  JFK Memorial edition picture of Kennedy

“My Weekly Reader” Special Memorial Section for President John Kennedy December 1963
The secret to the success of the popular weekly newspaper for elementary school children was the presentation of timely news articles from a child’s angle. By 1963 it was published by American Education Publication, a division of the Wesleyan University Press by which time there were 6 editions, one for each elementary grade.

While others relied on Walter Cronkite for their news of the Kennedy Assassination, My Weekly Reader was the newspaper of record for the grade-school set. The popular publication was a weekly newspaper that covered current event for elementary school children.

When we returned from Thanksgiving in 1963 this is how My Weekly Reader  gently reported the sad news of the death of President Kennedy on November 22:

A Special Tribute to President John F. Kennedy

“The world had liked John Kennedy’s vigor and his energy,” the newspaper reported. “People liked the graceful ways he and his wife had brought to the White House.”

“And Young Americans had liked him most of all. They had felt that he was a very special friend.”

John Kennedy weekly reader

Vintage “My Weekly Reader” Special JFK Memorial Issue Dec. 1963

“Kennedy felt it was important for a president to see the people and for the people to see him.”

“He went to Dallas in November 1963.”

“He knew then that no all of the people there liked him. But he asked that he and Mrs Kennedy ride in an open car. That way he and the people could see each other. And so it was that President John F. Kennedy was shot.”

“Everyone will long remember his young good looks. His ready smile. His quick step. He was a man on the move. A brave man.”

“He looked for the paths to move ahead. He said follow me to the end of the road and we will seek out greatness.”

“He was struck down long before we could see what lay at the end of his road. But for a moment we caught his step. And when he turned, we smiled.”

Don’t They Know, It’s the End of the World?

vintage schoolbok illustration little girl and teacher

Vintage Children’s School Book Illustration “Stories About Linda and Lee” 1960

As an 8-year-old, I was blissfully ignorant of the shadows of society and was happy to bask in the sunny Kodacolor optimism of John Kennedy’s New Frontier.

But after that long weekend in November 1963 the fragility of life became crystal clear…if  President Kennedy, brimming with vigor, erupting with energy, had been silenced and stilled….no one was safe.

Afterwards and for years to come people would remember precisely where they were, and  what they were doing when they heard the news from Dallas. Comparison to Pearl Harbor were inevitable. But unlike Pearl Harbor folks could not enlist in the military to give vent to their feelings. They could not take a war job or patriotically give up meat and gasoline.

There was little we could do, it seemed but grieve.

The first cracks in my mid-century American dream had begun to appear

Even as a third grader, it was clear that “the times they were a-changing.’”

Remembering John F. Kennedy

childs drawing of John Kennedy

The authors 1964 fourth grade report on President John Kennedy, on the first anniversary of his assassination. Illustration by Sally Edelstein

On the one year anniversary of John Kennedy’s death, my teacher asked us to remember our late President.

What do you remember about that November  day 50 years ago?

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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  1. Pingback: JFK Assasination – Transfixed by TV | Envisioning The American Dream

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