Today is Friday, November 22. John F Kennedy was killed on Friday November 22 in 1963.
I still remember standing in the bookstore at Providence College when they put on the radio over the speaker. The President has been shot. Still no news of his condition. By the time I returned to my dorm room and turned on the radio, he was dead.
My roommate was asleep on his bed, and wouldn’t wake up. So I sat at my desk in the gloom. It was a cloudy November afternoon. Reading the book I had just bought. Katherine Anne Porter’s Pale Horse, Pale Rider. An appropriate title for how we felt that day. An apocalypse.
When my roommate finally woke up, I told him the news. He wouldn’t believe me until he heard it on the radio. Later we went down to the rec room in our dorm to watch the TV news. We spent that weekend watching Walter Cronkite when we weren’t in the chapel saying prayers for our country.
Classes were suspended the following Monday for Kennedy’s funeral. The next day the entire student body gathered in the gym for a funeral Mass. To this day I am haunted by the memory of two Dominican friars chanting the Dies Irae according to the Dominican rite of the Latin Mass. You can hear that chant here.