Letter: Lasting memories of JFK’s death
Lasting memories of JFK’s death
In the back of my head I am always a little sad. Like others, I remember Nov. 22, 1963, with great feeling.
At my post in Toweh-ta Liberia, I was on a day trip to have dinner with fellow Peace Corps types. We arrived, had dinner and I said I want to see what the news is all about. I walked over to the short-wave radio, turned to the BBC and it was late in the broadcast from London. The announcer was summing up the day’s news: He said, “President Kennedy is dead.”
Totally shocked, I scanned the dial to pick up more news, as the BBC then went off the air. I found an Armed Forces station out of Greenville, N.C., which had a live feed of CBS news. With much sadness we all listened to the account of the trip to the hospital, the pronouncement of death and the flying of the body back to Washington, D.C.
About this time a knock came to the door. We opened it and a crowd of Steve and Lois Hirst’s students were outside armed with the knowledge of what had just happened. News traveled very fast in Liberia then because transistor radios were everywhere and
President Kennedy had been rumored for a visit to West Africa. The students were beside themselves with grief. They kind of kept a vigil outside that night of the assassination.
The next day Steve and I went to town for food and refreshments. At a Lebanese store we were met by a tall Mandingo chief who asked us if he could speak to us. Through an interpreter, he told us, “Your President was a good man, we all admired him”.
Later on we were able to follow the events of Nov. 22 through copies of Time and Life magazines, but I shall never forget the outpouring of grief we saw in that village of Tappeta in the days after the shooting in Dealy Plaza.