The JFK Assassination of My Innocence


The human eye is like a camera, the lid is like a shutter. You blink and somehow an image is recorded in your brain. Sometimes the recorded image stays for a short time. Sometimes it fades over years. But at other times, the snapshot is imbedded in your mind’s eye for life. Long before the events of 9-11and the fall of the twin towers,  is the image recorded in my mind from the day of November 22, 1963, a Friday. It is a snapshot of looking down my basement stairs into the darkness. An abyss, you might say. I could hear the TV on downstairs and the voice of my mother coming out of that darkness. Her words still echo in my mind. “President Kennedy is dead.” I don’t remember my reaction. I was only seven at the time. But I do remember the feeling of being scared. In later years I guess I would call it the shock of losing my innocence. There were bad things that happened long before then, of course, but it was the first time I remember it being so close to home.

Not long after, as a second grader, we were charged by our teacher to draw something in art class. I drew a crayon depiction of the historic event. Many years ago I framed it. It now hangs on my office wall and serves as a daily reminder of that dark day. The crude drawing is rather “on spot”, for a seven-year old. There is Lee Harvey Oswald shooting out of the fifth floor of a building. There is the convertible limousine that contains a driver, President Kennedy, Texas Governor Connally and Jackie. Cheering crowds are on the side of the road as 3 policemen on motorcycles ride along side the limousine. Two cops on foot are close by. The bullets from Oswald’s gun shows a purple line of trajectory that hits President John F. Kennedy in the head, causing orange blood to flow out. Connally is hit in the chest, while another bullet hits a police officer who was on foot. I must have cut out the head of the President from Life magazine, because it is pasted on the top of the paper along with my name, “Scottie”, which I wrote three times; once in ink, once in purple crayon and once more in orange crayon for good measure. Historically the drawing is not perfect, but symbolically it captures the impact that such an event can have on a little boy’s mind. Fortunately for me, I had the arms of a loving mother to calm my fears and comfort my soul.

All of us have traumatic events that alter our lives. Sometimes they come long before we are ready. Unfortunately for many, it comes way too early in life. And unlike my experience with the assassination of a president, far too often it comes closer to home. Abuse, neglect and hunger are a common visitor for many children. Divorce is now commonplace and the emotional and economic impact on them is tragic. There is a reason the Savior was such an advocate for the children. In them He saw Godly innocence and virtue. In them are found many of the attributes He desires we retain. In the gospel of Mark it is recorded:

“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you. Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.” (Mark 10:13-16)

It is clear that the Savior placed great value on children. We who are parents are charged to protect, provide, and nurture them till they reach adulthood. It is our charge to teach them the pathway back to our Heavenly Father. Mark had earlier recorded how strongly the Savior felt on this subject when the Savior was recorded to have said, “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” (Mark 9:42).

In these the latter-days, prophets have given us direction on the proper rearing of children through the family proclamation. It is an inspired document that follows the direction taught so many years ago by our Savior. Let us be vigilant in rearing our children in homes of love, faith and devotion to the Lord. Let us never contribute to the loss of their innocence; the assassination of which will come soon enough.

Our responsibility is to prepare them for that day, and then provide them with loving arms in which they can find security, peace and hope. I will never forget the insecure feeling I had that November day, back in 1963. But what I most remember is that my fear was quickly replaced by the embrace of a loving mother’s arms,  who valued the feelings of her little boy whose innocence had just been taken away.

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