“There Was A Sudden, Sharp, Shattering Sound”

Every Nov. 22 I feel a stab of pain emanating from Dallas. Even though I was just an eight-year-old kid, and even though we were in Bangkok, the news still shocked our secluded mission community. Most of us were just coming out of church (Sabbath morning, 17 time zones later) when the news began to spread across our hospital compound.

               Years ago I read the definitive Manchester book, “The Death of a President.” Things are going well; JFK and Jackie are glamorous and popular. The motorcade is gliding through the downtown area with cheering crowds. Then on page 229 is this one sentence: THERE WAS A SUDDEN, SHARP, SHATTERING SOUND.

               There are a million wrenching, poignant nuggets in this towering book. One that breaks my heart is where a Kennedy aide was arriving home later that night, his heart in a million pieces. A little neighbor kid paused on the sidewalk and said to him: “I’m sorry your President died.” Even in his grief, the aide paused right there. “Son, he was your President too. He was every American’s President.”

               The kid shrugged. “No, he wasn’t. My parents didn’t vote for him. Kennedy was nothing to us.” Just that story reminds me of what it means to be a citizen and to respect the framework of government our founders laid out for our lasting success.

               Back in 2003, I penned a series of VOP radio shows marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination. You can access it on Amazon for a dollar if you’re interested. Here’s the link:


               I also have to recommend Stephen King’s brilliant time-travel novel, 11-22-63, about a man who tries to go back through a wormhole in order to prevent Oswald from gunning down the President. If that story piques your interest, I did a similar vignette in The Time Portal, where a high school kid named Jordan Wickam is taken back to 1865 and is sitting in Ford’s Theater the night Abe Lincoln is shot.

About David B. Smith

I'm a math professor at San Bernardino Valley College - awesome place! - and author of adult Christian fiction. Lisa and I have two grown daughters and four grandkids.
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