By two o'clock we all knew and our knowledge was marked by silence and furrowed brows. At twenty to three as Erwin's bells chimed the finality of the day, professors quietly closed their books and dismissed class. Most students went directly to the Student Center, many walking alone, others in twos and threes. In the Center there was no rock and roll blaring from the juke box. There was only the measured voice of Walter Cronkite telling us the President of the United States was dead. We had many thoughts, many questions, but they were left unanswered as we listened in incredulous silence.
We didn't call him President Kennedy; he was JFK. He was too young. We felt he understood youth, us. We felt he respected us, our beliefs, our problems. We are Baptists, Italians, Lutherans, Catholics, Poles, Jews, Negroes, Irish, Japanese, but we had two things in common at exactly the same time - our youth and our feeling of loss at the death of JFK.
The Reverend William Smith, assistant professor of religion and philosophy, led the memorial service on Saturday. We wore solemn faces, the rain pattering on our umbrellas as we half-listened, half-thought. Dr. Frank E. Duddy Jr. sent a telegram of condolence which was later acknowledged by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Although we cannot see the private moments of grief and bewilderment each of us felt as America buried its President, the experiences we did witness belong to all of us as did JFK himself. He was a twentieth century man with twentieth century ideas. He worked to bring together the cultural, the intellectual, the political. We respected him as a man and a leader.
- J. M. V.