Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nov 23, 1963

The day was one of mixed emotions. There was a pallor over the country, a feeling of disbelief and of grief. We'd lost our beloved President just 24 hours before, at the hand of an assassin. We had a new President, our former Vice President, and none of us knew where we were headed in the future.

On the other hand, my tiny, fashionable aunt and I were about to journey off to New York City, to embark on the British cruise ship, the Ocean Monarch, for a week's trip to Bermuda. There was excitement within me, for this 16th birthday gift was a big adventure for me. I was dressed in my best church attire, a lilac plaid coat and a deeper shade of purple wool dress. (Looking back on those pictures, I realize that I'd always hated that coat!) I felt very special as I was greeted at the gangplank by a handsome, uniformed crew member with the cheerful "Welcome Aboard" tinted with a charming British accent.

We stood against the rail of the ship, looking down upon the crowd below, waiting to send off the travelers. I picked my parents out in the crowd, and felt somewhat anxious, suddenly thinking of the 'what if's'. "What if the boat sinks?" "What if I get sea sick?" For a brief moment, I wanted to bolt from the ship, but I held it together, and waved as the vessel slowly slipped from the pier, without the usual fanfare of confetti and noise. We were all respectfully somber in our behavior, in respect of John F. Kennedy.

As the televisions across the world broadcast the events of the day, the updates of the assassination, the way the world was responding to our loss, we slushed through New York Harbor to the open sea. The gray skies were appropriate, the gray sea reflecting the sky. The mood aboard ship, as well, was somewhat gloomy. We looked over the scheduled events, some of which had been curtailed until after Sunday services, out of respect.

I had many moments worthy of remembering in my life up until then, many of which have long been forgotten. However, November 23, 1963... was memorable day for a teenaged girl for many reasons, and one that would be remembered for my lifetime.