Remembering the Kennedy Assassination

Then-Senator John F. Kennedy speaking at Miami University in 1959, courtesy of the Miami University Archives on Ohio Memory.
Then-senator Kennedy speaking at Miami University in 1959, courtesy of the Miami University Archives on Ohio Memory.

November 22 is a date that looms large in the memories of Ohioans, Americans and the world–it was on this day 50 years ago that President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed during a public appearance in downtown Dallas, Texas. That day and the days that followed allowed everyday Americans to watch the tragedy as it unfolded, from Lyndon B. Johnson’s swearing-in as president, to the state funeral in Washington, D.C., to the killing of suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald by Dallas club owner Jack Ruby while Oswald was under police custody. The tragic and dramatic events of those few days left our culture with indelible images and marked all those who witnessed them with enduring impressions that many still recall today.

The stoicism of Jacqueline Kennedy was a common theme written about by students.
The stoicism of Jacqueline Kennedy was a common theme written about by students.

Ohio Memory has a remarkable document, courtesy of the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library and the Seneca County Digital Library, titled “JFK Remembered by 1963 Tiffin Columbian Juniors.” This fascinating item was compiled by Lewis E. Miller for the 40th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, and printed in Tornado Connections, a newsletter for alumni of Tiffin Columbian High School. Miller was a history teacher at the school when Kennedy was killed, and had the prescient idea to have his junior students in American History write up a response to the events that had just occurred when they returned to classes after the national day of mourning that had been declared on Monday, November 25. That Tuesday, each of Miller’s 130 students reflected in their own way on the assassination and its aftermath–capturing an informal snapshot of American sentiment about an event that would prove pivotal in our country’s history.

Student paper dated November 26, 1963.
Student paper dated November 26, 1963.

 

Miller kept those essays for decades, through the remainder of his career at Tiffin Columbian and his time working in academic administration at Heidelberg University. For the fortieth anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination, he decided to share the students’ words with the community and remind Tiffin of a moment in its own past, as well as one that played out on the national stage. Mr. Miller was kind enough to donate his compilation of the essays and accompanying documentation, as well as copies of the student papers, pages from Tornado Connections, and an article about the project, to the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library. We’re lucky that they’ve shared it with us via Ohio Memory to make these historic materials digitally available, and we hope you’ll take a few moments to explore the words these students shared with us 50 years ago.

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