It seems a sacred time, this Friday afternoon 50 years after JFK was slain. It's sent me back to a book long on the shelf, Four Days: The Historical Record of the Death of President Kennedy, compiled by United Press International and Amnerican Heritage Magazine. Stuck inside, I found a yellowing copy of The New York Times section The News of the Week in Review for Sunday, Nov. 24, 1963.

"He was a man of peace, who at first hand experienced war," the paper editorialized.

OK, so on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, I was in my fifth-grade classroom at Mary Queen of Heaven School, Brooklyn. A Kennedy-esque young priest -- he looked as if he could have been a Kennedy himself, and he used to require the altar boys to show up after school for a physical fitness routine -- came over from the rectory to break the news. Later, after Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested, our teacher -- her name was Miss Kennedy -- made a terrible assumption about the suspect. She said, "After all President Kennedy has done for the Negroes ..."

Some days later, the parish had a Mass for the children featuring an empty casket covered with an American flag in the center aisle before the main altar. Everyone was in tears, as if we'd lost a close relative.

And you?



Paul Moses is the author, most recently, of The Italian Squad: The True Story of the Immigrant Cops Who Fought the Rise of the Mafia (NYU Press, 2023). He is a contributing writer. Twitter: @PaulBMoses.

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