Friday, November 22, 2013

Memories of 11/22/63: Grief to Gratitude to Grace

Sandra, Paul, Debbie, & Cindy
November 1963
Several have posted memories of Kennedy being assassinated 50 years ago today. My parents, brother, my best friend, & I had come to Alabama for a few days. This photo of Sandra, Paul, Debbie (my cousin), & I was made about that time. I know I was sitting my grandparent's front porch when my mom came outside crying, telling us that President Kennedy had been shot.

At the time, I did not truly grasp the enormity of what had happened. Since Daddy was in the Navy, I know we immediately had to return to where he was stationed in Goose Creek (near Charleston), South Carolina. All I remember about the trip back was my parents sitting in the front seat, quietly taking, and Mom continued to have tears streaming down her face. Of course, I cried because Mom cried. 

Caroline, Jackie, & John Kennedy
At first I thought she was upset because we had to end our Thanksgiving vacation early, but reality sank in once we got to a television and I witnessed the sights and sounds of what had and continued to happen. Images of a grieving widow, and 2 kids brought it into a sharper focus. These kids no longer had a daddy. John-John's daddy was being buried on his 3rd birthday! Caroline's was just 2 days later, and she was the same age as my little brother. Suddenly, my world expanded beyond my circle of family and friends.

I remember when Thanksgiving came a few days later, I was more aware than ever of the blessings I had received from God.
I knew that Thanksgiving was a day we thanked God. We always prayed before eating anyway, but Thanksgiving Grace was for more than just the food we were about to eat. When it was my turn to ask the blessing, I always used the standard, "God is great, God is good, Let us thank Him for our food.", but I think I matured a little between Nov. 22, and Nov. 28, 1963.

That Thanksgiving I asked permission to ask the blessing. I still remember getting to the table early with my Bible because I wanted to read Scripture too. That is when I discovered a Psalm about thanksgiving! Psalm 100 immediately became a favorite and I remember reading it before asking the blessing and thanking God for all of the blessings I had received and could look forward to receiving from Him for all eternity. So, more than just a "Where Were You When...?" moment, this expanded to a week of where I experienced the grief of others as we mourned as a nation, realized how much I had to be grateful about in my life as the Kennedy family received the gratitude of a grateful nation for their sacrifice, and realized there was more to saying grace and thanking God for my food. I could also experience God's Grace and He became very real to me that week. 

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