Recollections of John F. Kennedy’s assassination come to life through the eyes of an American child
Word Count: 506
By Jessy Garza
It’s not every day that a 7-year-old boy finds himself in the midst of a national tragedy. But for Nelson Garza, that’s exactly what happened. He was in the middle of class in Penitas, Texas, when, he said, “time froze.”
“I remember it very clearly,” Garza said. “My teacher was on the phone and her face went bloodless. Next thing I knew, class was suddenly over and everyone was sent home.”
As a child, getting to leave school early “was like a dream come true” for many, Garza said. But little did he know that the true reason behind the school’s early dismissal was something more heartbreaking.
News of JFK’s Assassination
It didn’t take long for Garza to realize that being picked up early by his father may not have been a gift, after all.
“The news was all over the radio on the way home,” Garza said. “And while I knew who JFK was, I don’t remember really realizing what exactly had happened until I got back home, where pretty much everyone else in my family was gathered around our little TV.”
ABC, NBC, and CBS provided non-stop coverage of the assassination for four days following the fact. It was those news broadcasts that launched TV and network news outlets as a new force in the media world. Most notable during this time was CBS news anchorman Walter Cronkite, who delivered the now well-known report that the United States president was dead.
“My mother cried, my father and eldest siblings were outraged, but I was just … sad,” Garza said. “It was worse, now that I think about it, when my younger siblings asked me what happened and all I could really say at 7 years old was ‘The president’s dead.’”
While school in many places resumed, families still sat around their TVs for the four days that the JFK coverage continued. The nation was in shock.
“(JFK’s assassination) was definitely hard on my parents,” Garza said. “Every channel we turned to, every newspaper my father picked up, every time we turned on the radio … it was a constant reminder of what had happened.”
In the days following, including Lee Harvey Oswald’s murder only
two days after JFK’s assassination, the news continued to pour out from every media outlet available at the time. These ranged from televised reports to print publications like The New York Times newspaper and Life magazine.
“It was like every day there was a new detail that the media picked up on,” Garza said. “And while (the media) certainly knew how to keep a wound fresh, they certainly knew how to keep the people in the know as well.”
Jessy Garza is a writer and editor-in-chief for the Odyssey online magazine for Texas State University. She is a sophomore majoring in journalism with a minor in psychology. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NBC News, aired live Nov. 22, 1963
CBS News, aired live Nov. 22, 1963
The Boston Globe, Page 1, Nov. 22, 1963, Story by Robert L. Healy
The New York Times, Page 1, Nov. 22, 1963
The Austin-American Statesman, Page 1, Nov. 22, 1963