Thursday, 22 November 2007

November 22nd 1963

JFK on 21st November 1963

Folk of my age group can all recall exactly what they were doing on this day, 22nd November, in 1963 in the early evening as the news came through that President John F Kennedy had been shot. He died at 7.00 pm GMT, 35 minutes after being shot, and there were special news bulletins the whole evening. The modern equivalent of this event is the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11th 2001 (3pm BST). Other events of significance which you may be able to recall where you were when you first heard include the death of Princess Diana (31st August 1997 – circa 1am. BST); Hillsborough Disaster (April 15th 1989 - 3pm); the ‘One small step for Man’ moonwalk (21st July 1969 – 2.56 UTC {3.56 BST}); the Lockerbiie Disaster (21st December 1988 c 7 pm GMT); and the invasion of the Falklands Islands by Argentina (2nd April 1982 – 4.30 am Falklands time; 9.30 pm 1st April GMT).

Not that it is of any significance to you but I was doing the following. When Kennedy was shot I was upstairs at Mum and Dad’s doing homework and they called up for me to come down and watch the television. I saw the Twin Towers on Sky and actually saw the second plane hit live. I had put the TV on when I heard the initial news on ClassicFM. Later that afternoon I took Mum to visit Dad in his nursing home and everyone there was glued to the TV.

I slept through the moonwalk and watched it the next day on television. Most people stayed up to watch but I didn’t – I had worked late and was in work the next day so I didn’t bother. I was naive enough to think that there would be plenty more moonwalks in my lifetime. The Lockerbie disaster involved me personally as one of my roles was Emergency Planning Officer and there was potential for nationwide involvement. I cannot recall what I was doing when Argentina invaded the Falklands. When the Hillsborough news broke I was at the till of ASDA and at first it just seemed like a crowd disturbance but then the horror grew and we heard more news on the car radio. When we got home I had to phone our Social Services people to make sure they had heard and were setting up necessary support. By then they were already sending staff and mini-buses over to Sheffield.

Most memorable after Kennedy, in terms of where I was, is Princess Diana. Jo, Richard and I were in a Travel Lodge in Hereford and I couldn’t sleep so I had the TV on low. By the time the world woke up I had been out around the streets of Hereford, chatted to people on the streets, got the morning papers and had all the detail for Jo. I had tried to wake her during the night but to no avail.

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