President John F. Kennedy’s death still plays a major role among baby boomers who were school children when he was killed by assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
My teacher cried, I cried and when we got home we saw Walter Cronkite cry on television,” said Dr. Barbara O’Conner, the noted political and media analyst.
O’Conner says JFK was the first television president that people felt they knew.
“It was the first time I felt somebody I knew and loved died,” said O’Conner, who was 15 year-old at the time. She ended up changing her major and devoting her life to public service and politics because of the sense of hope and optimism displayed by the youthful Kennedy.
Assembly member Roger Dickinson says he’ll never forget the day of the assassination.
“It seemed in a blink of an eye that possibilities had been stolen away from us, taken away from us,” said Dickinson.
Political consultant Gary Dietrich said the events in Dallas ultimately lead him to politics. He said the nation bonded while watching live coverage of the assassination and the moving funeral.
“Everybody was glued to their sets, everybody shared that national experience in a way we never had on anything else,” said Dietrich.
And he said despite President Kennedy’s failings as president, his vision for a better America was a symbolic boost that the nation needed when millions of baby boomers were coming into their own.
“The call to public service…the call to put a man on the moon, I mean nobody laid out a vision like that, and let’s do it by the end of the decade?” said Dietrich.
Dickinson too said his career in public service stemmed from President Kennedy’s inspiration.
“It inspired us to want to become part of a change that we thought that John Kennedy represented,” said Dickinson.