Thanksgiving 1963 -- Lee Harvey Oswald

"Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.
Live as servants of God."

1 Peter 2:16


I climbed out of bed that morning, November 24, 1963, savoring the steamy aroma of a fat, stuffed turkey roasting in the oven. As I stumbled into the kitchen rubbing the sleep from my eyes, Mom was busy making cranberry sauce. Dad was sharpening the knife he always used to carve our Thanksgiving turkey. Their attention focused on a small, portable, black-and-white television set, its “rabbit ears” antenna tilted toward the steam-fogged kitchen windows. On the screen a fuzzy image of Walter Cronkite re-told the events since President Kennedy’s assassination two days before. Guilt contributed to our silence that Sunday morning. We had skipped church, the place where most Americans sought comfort following one of the darkest days in our country’s history.


We were having our Thanksgiving meal four days early because my grandmother planned to travel to Quantico, Virginia to spend Thanksgiving Day with my mother's sister. No one felt like celebrating. Our President was dead, shot by Lee Harvey Oswald who took aim from a window in a schoolbook depository in Dallas and twisted our lives into a tangled mass of confusion and fear.

As I set the table later that morning, and Grandma arrived with homemade pumpkin pie, my ten-year-old mind struggled to understand why anyone would want to kill the President. The whole world, it seemed, had stopped. Our feelings had shifted from anger and disbelief to a stark, quiet acceptance. Kennedy was gone. There was nothing anyone could do to turn back time and make things right again.

We were about to sit down for our Thanksgiving dinner when Mom called from the kitchen. “Come here. They’re showing Oswald!” We gathered around the TV for our first look at the monster who had killed President Kennedy. There he was, handcuffed and looking surprisingly clean-cut wearing dark corduroy slacks and a pullover sweater. He walked swiftly and with a sense of arrogance, through the basement corridors of the Dallas Police Department, toward a car waiting to take him to the county jail. Then, as we watched, a man wearing a suit and fedora lunged forward. He shot Oswald, point blank, in his stomach. “Mercy!” Grandma exclaimed. We had just witnessed a murder, and although no one felt merciful toward Oswald that day, we were shocked. Stunned. “Enough,” said Mom, turning off the television. "It's Thanksgiving."

We sat down at the dinner table, joined hands, and prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for your many blessings, your faithfulness, and your never-ending love . . .”

*****
Praise the Lord, all you nations;

extol him, all you peoples.

For great is his love toward us,

and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

~Psalm 117:1-2











1 comment:

Jamie said...

It is something about very traumatic news that just burns those memories in to our minds. It was a very sad day. Innocence was lost.

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