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Members of the Class of '64 Recall JFK AssassinationNovember 22, 2013
Harry Witte, ‘64, said he still gets goose bumps recalling the events of Nov. 22, 1963.
Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed at the end of a motorcade in Dallas, Witte said he, like many other members of his generation, can still remember what ran through his head that day.
“It was amazing that this could happen,” he said he remembers thinking. “It was really tough.”
Just hours earlier, the mood on the Rockhurst College campus was an entirely different one. Bob Reiter, ‘64, said a crowd had gathered in the Rock Room for a rally with a band to drum up support for the upcoming homecoming festivities.
“It was very noisy and everyone was having a great time,” Reiter said, before a voice came over the public address system with the radio broadcast to inform campus that the president had been shot. “The place was teeming with people, and then a hush fell over everybody and we sat and listened to that broadcast for about 10 minutes.”
Reiter was in his next class, a history course, when the bells began to toll at St. Francis Xavier Church.
“The professor said ‘I think that means the president is gone,’ and he just let us go,” he said.
Tom Fisch, ‘64, said many on campus at that time were in disbelief at what had happened. He said he can barely recall what happened in the days following aside from watching TV coverage, evidence of the affect that the assassination had on him and others.
“Everybody asks ‘do you remember where you were 50 years ago today when it happened?’ and I think everybody can ,” he said. “There’s no memory lapse there, that’s for sure.”
In addition to the tragedy of a presidential assassination, Reiter said Kennedy represented for him and others the future of the country, with his youth and his ambitious ideals.
“He was the president that everyone could relate to,” Reiter said. “Everyone related to him and everything changed after that. The world changed after that.”