November 22, 1963

Most of those who have reached sixty will remember this day fifty years ago when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. I was teaching a fifth period math class in high school in South Carolina, a teacher stuck her head in my class room and told me to turn on the television. As the picture began to roll down the screen we learned that the 35th president of the United States had been killed, I was broken by the reaction of the students; a cheer almost went up across the room, I called for order and made some effort to tell them how embarrassed I was at their reaction. I knew that I was living in a part of South Carolina that disliked the president and much of what he stood for but this reaction just stunned me. I was in the process of giving them a large piece of my mind when the principle called for me to come to the office and offer a prayer for our nation as it had been decided that school would be closed immediately. Of course the nation fell into mourning, television programming went off and only the events of the death of our president filled the air for the next four days. Most of us watched as Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald on Sunday afternoon in the tunnel area of the jail in Dallas as he was being moved. When it was announced that the burial service for the president would be on Monday and all schools and businesses would be closed I announced that we would have a memorial service in our church for the president. Knowing how the teenagers of our members had reacted I was not sure if this might not be my last act as their pastor. By the providence of God I had torn out the center pages of Life Magazine that contained the inaugural address of the president and decided to read it as a part of the memorial service. I expected a couple of dozen people for the service but was amazed as I walked out of my home across the street and saw the church already filled and people standing in the yard for the service.

I saw that day how such an act of tragedy could change the heart of a community in one swift moment. I never again heard one negative word about the president, our community came together, and our repentant hearts changed the lives of us all. How sad that it sometimes takes an act of terror to bring our nation to the Lord.


Published in: on November 22, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

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