Writing About The Historical Events That Occurred During Your Lifetime

Mary Lynn Elementary School
Mary Lynn Elementary School

When I was 8 years old we lived in a house that was located on a dirt road just outside the Tucson city limits. We used to get the neighborhood kids together and play kickball in the street. One time when it was my turn at the plate, I kicked the ball and it went to the left and I ran to first base which was to the right. The ball hit a rock and bounced to the right directly under my feet. I fell over the ball and ended up with a large rock embedded in my knee. I had to have several stitches and the Doctor instructed me not to run. At school they made me sit in the office during recess and lunch because I had a hard time not running when I was outside.

I vividly remember the day I was sitting on the couch in the office when the principle, Mrs. Reineke came running into the room. She said something in a whisper to the receptionist who immediately turned pale and began to cry. The office door opened and in came several of the teachers and aides. They wheeled in a television on a large rolling stand and plugged it in. One of the aides pulled the shade down over the window of the door that lead from the hallway into the office. Everyone gathered around the set.

I heard the gasps of the adults as the News Anchorman announced that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been shot

President John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy

while riding in a motorcade through the streets of Dallas Texas.  I could hear some of the teachers crying softly, tears rolling down their cheeks. After what seemed like an eternity to me the Anchorman then announced that President Kennedy had died from his wounds at Parkland Memorial Hospital. The room erupted in sobs and outrage. All I could do was cower back as far as I could on the couch and cover my ears. I had never known anyone who had died before so I wasn’t sure what it meant, all I did know was it was a horrible thing that just happened.

Several minutes later the room quieted down and Mrs. Reineke began instructing the teacher on how to tell their pupils about the death of our President. She suddenly stopped mid-sentence and got a surprised look on her face. All the teachers turned to follow her gaze which had fallen upon me. In all the uproar no one had noticed that I was there. She immediately came over and lifted me in her arms. This made me begin to cry, more from confusion than anything else. She sat down and held me on her lap and explained to me what had just happened. Sadness like I had never known fell over me.

JFK Newspaper clippingAfter all the teachers had left Mrs. Reineke asked the receptionist to go and get me an ice cream from the cafeteria. She then told me that none of the other children knew about what happened and that when we all return to our classes the teachers were going to give us the news. She told me not tell anyone. When the bell rang I left the office and went to meet up with my class at the water fountain outside our classroom. Remember, I am an 8 year old girl with a heavy secret. One that was too heavy to keep. After taking a drink from the fountain I turned around and informed the student behind me that the President had been shot and he had died. She was not the only one who heard me and the next thing I knew there were several kids crying. Yes, I did get in trouble from my teacher.

This was a terrible time for our Country. President Kennedy was very well liked and he had done a lot of good while he was in office. On the day of the Presidents funeral the entire school went into the Auditorium and watched it on television. Most of us were too young to realize that we were having a firsthand look at an historic moment.

I will ever forget where I was when Kennedy got shot; do you remember where you were? We experience so many Historical Moments in our lives and this gives us an opportunity to write what we see, feel or believe concerning these events. Spend some time and think of all the changes that have happened in your lifetime, think about some Major event that took place that impacted you in some way. Now write about it. Let’s all leave our own accounts of History for our future generations.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


25 thoughts on “Writing About The Historical Events That Occurred During Your Lifetime

  1. I was in 2nd grade. It was after lunch and we were at our seats, and the teacher was out of the classroom. She walked into the room, and announced that the President had been assassinated. Yes, she used that big word, and most of us didn’t know what it meant. Some of the children started crying, and I was confused why, because it wasn’t like we knew him. It was probably for the same reason that you cried, and I know that now. It was a day of heavy sadness.

      1. My mother was a collector of odd bits of memorabilia, and she collected the magazines that featured the news of the assassination. I suppose I have that stuff somewhere.

      2. Wow, that would be great to have. My mom threw everything out, even photos, way back in 1974 when my Dad died. I only have what I could save from the trash or what I already had hidden!

  2. Very good reminder Val. This is something I’ve been meaning to start and have yet to do. How many historic events I could write about! Like what I remember about the Vietnam War, our country’s Bicentennial, John Lennon’s death, besides more current things like 9/11, etc. So many significant events when I stop and think about them. Thanks for the valuable prompt!

  3. I was in the 4th grade and we were out at recess. When we returned to the classroom, we were told the President had been shot and killed. I thought they meant the Principal of the school and I had no idea why anyone would want to shoot our Principal. I spent the entire weekend watching every bit of news coverage I could although, thankfully, I was at Sunday School when Oswald was shot. Thanks for the reminder to write about important events during our lifetime – someday our descendants will want to know what we were feeling at the time.

    1. Elise,

      Thank you so much for sharing your Blog with me. I read it and enjoyed it very much. I am glad you took the challenge, now your descendants will know what happened that day through your eyes and heart!


  4. A wonderful idea. We have all had experiences with some ‘special days’ good and bad in the country’s history. I too remember the same day you wrote about and I,too, will share my day……. a day was visiting in DC because my husband was there on business. Among other things I remember driving down Connecticut Ave as all the flags were being lowered to half-staff. In some way I think the rememberances of children are even more overwhelming than those of adults.

    1. Marianne,

      Thank you for reading the Blog and for sharing your story with me. That would have been very memorable watching them lower the flags. I am sure your family would love to read your stories!


  5. I was 3 or 4 when he died, so I don’t remember when he passed. But I’ve lived through other things like first man on the moon, etc. I need to be writing them down, don’t I.

  6. This is such a great idea. I was too young to remember but I do remember my grandmother having his photo, Bobby and MLk on her wall. Those are experiences that everyone shares. You’ve got me thinking about the “historical” events that happened in my lifetime…well the ones I remember. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post.

  7. I was in the fifth grade in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. We were outside for recess, and somebody ran up to tell me President Kennedy had been shot. I remember looking up at the sky, and seeing the clouds. It felt like the world had changed, and I wanted to see something familiar. In the afternoon, my teacher brought in a black and white TV, and we watched the news for the rest of the day. This is definitely one of the most important events of my lifetime

  8. What a touching post! I recently watched the news reports of that awful day and it brought me to tears. I was four when Kennedy died and didn’t learn of his death until my parents watched his funeral on TV (who thinks of telling a 4YO?). Watching the funeral is one of my earliest memories.

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